A literature review: Advance directives and patients with implantable cardioverter defibrillators

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Purpose: The purpose of this literature review is to describe the severity of and susceptibility for negative outcomes in patients with implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) who lack advanced directives.

Data sources: A comprehensive review of literature was conducted with articles selected from CINAHL, Pubmed, Ovid, Medline, evidence-based medicine, evidence-based nursing, and the Web of Science from 1990 to the present. Key words such as ICD, randomized controlled trials, case studies, advanced directives, end-of-life, living will, health care proxy, and durable power of attorney were used to identify specific studies.

Conclusions: Advanced directives are becoming an essential part of care for the ICD population. The recommendations in the literature suggest that clinicians should initiate end-of-life discussions with their patients when they are healthy. The patients' preferences should be discussed often in patient care in case they would like changes made to their advance directive as their condition changes.

Implications for practice: Implementation of advanced directives in patients' medical care will need to be encouraged in the event of illness. Advanced practice nurses can provide clear explanations of patients' treatment choices in outpatient and inpatient settings.

Keywords: Advanced practice nurse (APN); cardiovascular disease; defibrillation; end-of-life

Document Type: Review Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1745-7599.2010.00499.x

Publication date: May 1, 2010

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