Being Mortal : Medicine And What Matters In The End / Atul Gawande

Atul Gawande is a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He has also written three previous bestselling books that focus on the use of quality control measures to improve healthcare in hospitals. In Being Mortal, he turns his pen to examining the modern experience of mortality—how people age and die, and how medicine has changed the experience, but not necessarily for the better. He rightly contends that physicians are poorly trained to deal with the dying patient. Having been taught to do everything they can to keep people alive, clinicians are not qualified to provide guidance on palliative care issues. As a result, far too many patients spend their final days still being aggressively treated, hooked to machines in a hospital setting. Gawande also examines the warehousing of the elderly in nursing homes under suboptimal conditions. By providing examples drawn from his patients and own family, he puts a human face to the topic of aging, treatment of terminal diseases, and palliative care. Having shown how the current system is broken, the solutions Gawande offers are already well known. These include training more clinicians in the specialty of geriatric medicine, introducing palliative care in the primary care setting, improving assisted living options, and most importantly, making hospice services readily available. While no magic panacea, if these were implemented, care at the end of life would be vastly improved. Even though Gawande breaks no new ground in this book, thanks to the personal stories shared throughout, he makes the topic easily digestible for laypersons planning for the care of family members or themselves when confronting mortality issues. Gawande is to be commended for providing a highly readable tome on a topic that needs to become a part of our national discussion on healthcare.

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