April 21, 2016 – LVAD Death


Anchor lead:  How does use of high tech devices complicate the experience of death? Elizabeth Tracey reports

LVAD is shorthand for left ventricular assist device, a technology that keeps the heart beating even at the last stages of heart failure.  Yet when someone dies with such a device in place, family members report being confused and upset because they were unaware such an outcome was possible, a recent study reports.  Rab Razzak, a palliative care expert at Johns Hopkins, comments.

Razzak: There’s a lot of ethical issues to talk about I think before we as health care professionals start an intervention like that.  Many of us are forgetting the key component to this which is having discussions about what this means. An intervention can be a bridge if there’s a reversible process, the concern is when there’s an irreversible process going on. That’s what’s concerning, not only as health care professionals but the nation because of the healthcare cost issue.  Care that may not help patients and may bring about more suffering, for not only patients but their family members.   :33

Razzak says clear communication must be ongoing, especially when high tech interventions are underway.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.