The potential role for automatic external defibrillators in palliative care units.

Abstract

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) has received frequent attention by professionals and the public in recent times. Concerns regarding the potential harms for little chance of success have caused palliative care units (PCUs) doubts about initiating CPR. However, there appears to be a moral responsibility to offer CPR to some, carefully selected, patients. Automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) have been shown to significantly increase chances of survival following CPR and are simple to use, even for non-professionals. It is argued that AEDs may increase the moral imperative on PCUs to offer CPR to certain patients and provide the basis for a necessary debate on where the border between appropriate active treatment and a disturbance to the aim of a peaceful death rests.

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