Defibrillation implants in heart patients is no longer a new concept. These implants are life-savers. With the increase in age, such patients may face difficulty.

An international team of cardiologist writes, “Conversations about end-of-life care, in particular, can drive a wedge between patients and doctors and create difficult decisions for families.” Their contribution is present in the American Journal of Medicine.

Dr. Arnold Eiser says, “The standard consent process does not fully inform patients receiving (the device) about all the downstream implications.” Dr. Arnold Eiser is the co-author of the study and an adjunct fellow at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He is also a medicine professor at Drexel University.

These implantable cardioverter defibrillators are entirely different from pacemakers. The pacemakers are used to control abnormal rhythms of the human heart. The role of these pacemakers resides in prompting the heart to beat at an average rate via electrical pulses. On the other hand, the implantable cardioverter defibrillator monitors the heart rhythms. Also, these implantable cardioverter defibrillator shocks the heart to prevent sudden cardiac arrest.

Eiser says, “Older patients may face a difficult choice of when to stop using an ICD, especially if shocks become painful or it continues life longer than desired.”

It thus follows that whenever the patients are ready to undergo surgery for the implants, they must be aware of the benefits as well as the risks of the implants. It is the doctor’s responsibility to inform the patient and his families in a way that they could grasp the information conveniently. If you look at the current consent forms for implant surgery, then it emphasizes more on the short-term risks and benefits. Instead of the short-term risks and benefits, the consent form should focus on the broader issues related to the implant device that may mark its presence later.