The ethical and legal implications of deactivating an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator in a patient with terminal cancer

Ruth England, Tim England, John Coggon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In this paper, the ethical and legal issues raised by the deactivation of implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) in patients with terminal cancer is considered. It is argued that the ICD cannot be well described either as a treatment or as a non-treatment option, and thus raises complex questions regarding how rules governing deactivation should be framed. A new category called "integral devices" is proposed. Integral devices require their own special rules, reflecting their position as a "halfway house" between a form of treatment and a part of the body. The practical problems faced by doctors working in palliative medicine with regard to the deactivation of ICDs are also considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)538-40
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Medical Ethics
Volume33
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2007

Keywords

  • Defibrillators, Implantable
  • Ethics, Clinical
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms
  • Terminal Care
  • Terminally Ill
  • Withholding Treatment

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