In The New Old Age blog post, Dr Paul S. Mueller, a Mayo Clinic general internist and bioethicist, estimates that there are probably a couple of million Americans who currently have a pacemaker or defibrillators.
However, a small study of patients at the Mayo Clinic found that very few patients had made a decision (or recorded their wishes) about deactivating their devices.
The devices prolong lives, but “all those people will face decisions down the road,” Dr. Mueller said. “’Do I keep it going? Do I turn it off?’”
The article calls for patients and doctors to discuss this sensitive subject, before a loved one has to make the decision for them.