Harvard Health Letter

Deactivating the ICDs of hospice patients

Hospice patients with implantable cardioverter-defibrillators may choose to turn off the shock function of the devices to avoid a potentially painful shock. Turning off an ICD does not mean removing the device or any kind of surgical procedure. It's a matter of reprogramming the device electronically through the skin, an entirely painless procedure.  If an ICD hasn't been turned off and starts to fire, holding a magnet right over the device will temporarily disable it and keep it from delivering multiple shocks.  
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