ICDs are now routinely used as prophylaxis and as a rescue treatment for patients prone to malignant ventricular arrhythmias. This case study describes a patient who experienced a phenomenon known as “phantom shock,” a term which implies that the patient perceives an ICD shock, even though the memory of the ICD indicates that no therapy (shock) was delivered. In cases such as these, the author believes it is imperative that nurses support the patients and not minimize their perceptions and review the device’s history.

Introduced clinically in 1980 and approved by the Food and Drug Administration for implantation in 1985, implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) are now routinely used as prophylaxis and as rescue treatment for patients prone to malignant ventricular arrhythmias.1 The current devices are capable of monitoring and pacing in both the atria and the ventricles and...

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