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Medicine and Public Policy |

When Should Patients with Lethal Ventricular Arrhythmia Resume Driving?: An Analysis of State Regulations and Physician Practices

S. Adam Strickberger, MD; Catherine O. Cantillon, RN; and Peter L. Friedman, MD, PhD
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Requests for Reprints: Peter L. Friedman, MD, PhD, Cardiovascular Division, Brigham and Women's Hospital, 75 Francis Street, Boston, MA 02115.

Current Author Addresses: Drs. Strickberger and Friedman and Ms. Cantillon: Cardiovascular Division, Brigham and Women's Hospital, 75 Francis Street, Boston, MA 02115.

© 1991 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians

Ann Intern Med. 1991;115(7):560-563. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-115-7-560
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▪ Most states have specific laws governing whether patients with seizure disorders can drive. To learn whether similar laws exist for patients with lethal ventricular arrhythmias, we surveyed the Departments of Motor Vehicles in all 50 states. In addition, either an arrhythmia specialist (n = 25) or a general cardiologist (n = 25) was chosen randomly from each state and interviewed to study physician awareness of such laws and physician attitudes toward driving by patients with arrhythmias. Forty-two states (84%) have laws restricting driving by patients who have seizures; only 8 states (16%) have specific laws for patients with arrhythmias. No state makes a distinction between driving by patients with arrhythmias who are managed with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) compared with patients who are managed medically. Seventy-four percent of physicians did not know their own state's laws about driving by patients who have ventricular arrhythmias. Cardiologists were more likely to advise no driving restriction for medically treated patients than for ICD-treated patients. Cardiologists were also more likely to advise permanent restriction for patients with ICDs than for patients treated medically. We conclude that greater legal and medical consensus is needed to guide physicians in advising patients with lethal ventricular arrhythmias about driving restrictions.





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