Summary of Dying Well

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  • Scientific
  • Applicable
  • Inspiring


A palliative care physician, Ira Byock regularly lectures doctors and nurses about enlightened end-of-life care. He teaches patients and caregivers about the benevolent options that are available for incurably ill people if their caregivers are willing to go beyond the problem-based, solely curative approach that the US medical profession tends to favor. Service groups, religious groups and healthcare providers who understand Byock’s lasting message – the book, still a top-seller, dates back to 1997 – believe dying people should get more from doctors than more disease treatments and pills for pain. He explains what quality palliative care and hospice programs offer and outlines what dying patients and their loved ones should insist on from medical professionals. getAbstract finds that Byock’s manual offers useful information before you have to make end-of-life decisions for a loved one, and it’s an excellent resource if you’re in the middle of that storm.

About the Author

Ira Byock, MD, currently serves as chief medical officer of the California-based Institute for Human Caring of Providence Health Services, which he founded in 2014. His more recent books include The Four Things That Matter Most (2004), and The Best Care Possible (2012).



End of Life

American society lacks a constructive vision of end-of-life issues or care. Americans generally hate to think about death. They think about life – their own lives and how they hope to make those lives better. Their focus tends to be on the future and doing all they can to improve it. Americans like to joke about death, hopefully lessening its grim impact and pushing away the all-consuming fear.

For most Americans, dying is a wretched experience for both the ill person and the loved ones who witness their distress. Dying people worry that they will become a burden, that the experience will rob them of their dignity and that their families will suffer, and their doctors will abandon them. Due to deficiencies in the United States’ health care system, including inadequate financing policies, many people who take a long time to die will become paupers, as will their families. Insurance companies and managed-care organizations often ignore hospice options.  

Up-and-coming medical professionals in the US receive little training in how to deal with the dying. Because of the medical profession’s curative orientation, physicians’ education...

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