Deactivation of Left Ventricular Assist Devices: Differing Perspectives of Cardiology and Hospice/Palliative Medicine Clinicians

Colleen K. McIlvennan, Sara E. Wordingham, Larry A. Allen, Daniel D. Matlock, Jacqueline Jones, Shannon M. Dunlay, Keith M. Swetz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Background Beliefs around deactivation of a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) vary substantially among clinicians, institutions, and patients. Therefore, we sought to understand perspectives regarding LVAD deactivation among cardiology and hospice/palliative medicine (HPM) clinicians. Methods and Results We administered a 41-item survey via electronic mail to members of 3 cardiology and 1 HPM professional societies. A convergent parallel mixed-methods design was used. From October through November 2011, 7168 individuals were sent the survey and 440 responded. Three domains emerged: (1) LVAD as a life-sustaining therapy; (2) complexities of the process of LVAD deactivation; and (3) legal and ethical considerations of LVAD deactivation. Most respondents (cardiology 92%; HPM 81%; P =.15) believed that an LVAD is a life-sustaining treatment for patients with advanced heart failure; however, 60% of cardiology vs 2% of HPM clinicians believed a patient should be imminently dying to deactivate an LVAD (P <.001). Additionally, 87% of cardiology vs 100% of HPM clinicians believed the cause of death following LVAD deactivation was from underlying disease (P <.001), with 13% of cardiology clinicians considering it to be a form of euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide. Conclusion Cardiology and HPM clinicians have differing perspectives regarding LVAD deactivation. Bridging the gaps and engaging in dialog between these 2 specialties is a critical first step in creating a more cohesive approach to care for LVAD patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)708-712
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Cardiac Failure
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2017


  • Heart-assist devices
  • end of life care
  • heart failure
  • palliative care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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