The decision to deactivate a pacemaker in a pacing-dependent patient is troubling for some health professionals who may regard such interventions as hastening death and therefore ethically impermissible. This may be especially concerning in situations where a patient is unable to clearly state what their preferences may be and the decision-were it to be made-will almost certainly result in the patient’s immediate death. In this discussion, we reflect on some of the ethical aspects that arise when JP, a 75-year-old woman who is pacing dependent, suffers a significant brain injury, and the family request that her pacemaker be deactivated. Taking into account the clinical reality of her situation, the united wishes and loving concern of her husband and family, and their substituted judgment regarding her likely preferences, we claim that the decision to deactivate her pacemaker was ethically sound.
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