Health Policy

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

By Atul Gawande

In Being Mortal, bestselling writer Atul Gawande tackles the toughest problem of his career: how drugs can't in basic terms enhance existence but in addition the method of its ending

Medicine has triumphed nowa days, reworking delivery, damage, and infectious ailment from harrowing to doable. yet within the inevitable situation of getting older and dying, the pursuits of medication look too usually to run counter to the curiosity of the human spirit. Nursing houses, preoccupied with defense, pin sufferers into railed beds and wheelchairs. Hospitals isolate the demise, checking for very important symptoms lengthy after the targets of healing became moot. medical professionals, dedicated to extending existence, proceed to hold out devastating systems that during the top expand suffering.

Gawande, a practising physician, addresses his profession’s final drawback, arguing that caliber of lifestyles is the specified target for sufferers and households. Gawande bargains examples of freer, extra socially satisfying types for supporting the infirm and established aged, and he explores the forms of hospice care to illustrate person's final weeks or months should be wealthy and dignified.

Full of eye-opening learn and riveting storytelling, Being Mortal asserts that medication can convenience and increase our adventure even to the tip, supplying not just an exceptional lifestyles but in addition an exceptional finish.

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Sample text

He got to live the way he wished and with his family around him right to the end. * * * FOR MOST OF human history, for those few people who actually survived to old age, Sitaram Gawande’s experience was the norm. Elders were cared for in multigenerational systems, often with three generations living under one roof. Even when the nuclear family replaced the extended family (as it did in northern Europe several centuries ago), the elderly were not left to cope with the infirmities of age on their own.

He coughed a couple of times when I pulled it out, opened his eyes briefly, and closed them. His breathing grew labored, then stopped. I put my stethoscope on his chest and heard his heart fade away. Now, more than a decade after I first told Mr. Lazaroff’s story, what strikes me most is not how bad his decision was but how much we all avoided talking honestly about the choice before him. We had no difficulty explaining the specific dangers of various treatment options, but we never really touched on the reality of his disease.

We found that the cancer had spread to his thoracic spine, where it was compressing his spinal cord. The cancer couldn’t be cured, but we hoped it could be treated. Emergency radiation, however, failed to shrink the cancer, and so the neurosurgeon offered him two options: comfort care or surgery to remove the growing tumor mass from his spine. Lazaroff chose surgery. My job, as the intern on the neurosurgery service, was to get his written confirmation that he understood the risks of the operation and wished to proceed.

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