I finished reading Atul Gawande's, _Being Mortal_; it gets 5/5 stars
from me and it's recommended reading for all mortals.
Gawande's point of view, as a physician, the son of physicians --
both his mother and father are doctors, as well as immigrants --
gives him a very compelling moral voice. The book was recommended to me
by a friend, and it couldn't have come at a better time.
He mixes professional and personal experiences with a deft hand. I
really liked seeing how a surgeon approached communicating difficult
news to a patient and the patient's family, just as I liked seeing
how he handled it as a son. He does so with a knowledge that
something vital is missing in the current way imminent death and the
limitations of medicine are conveyed to the patient. Interspersed
throughout the book are specific cases and outcomes, along with an
examination of his own approach -- flooding the patient with
information -- and how he could improve it for the sake of his
patients' desires for their final days.
He's able to weave his reflections on the current state of our
ability / inability to face mortality with a brief history of
hospitals; nursing homes; assisted living; and the latest iteration,
continuance of care facilities. He also takes a look at Hospice
care, honestly conveying his own misgivings about it, only to be won
over by its objectives for making each day of the life that is left
to someone a day worth living, when caring for his own father, who
had become terminally ill.
He clearly states the objectives of medical institutions and how
often they are at odds with what's best for a patient, especially as
it pertains to end of life issues. Medical practice, in general,
still views death as the enemy, the enemy that relentlessly wins. By
refocusing on the desires and values of the patient, a better death
is within the realm of possibilities.
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, by Atul Gawande