The Best Care Possible

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Palliative-care physician  Dr. Ira Byock argues that end-of-life care is one of the biggest national crises facing us today, and that politics has trumped reason when it comes to addressing the issue. In The Best Care Possible: A Physician’s Quest to Transform Care through the End of Life Dr. Byock explains what palliative care is and why he believes we must reform our health care system and move past our cultural aversion to talking about death.


Dr. Ira Byock

Comments [4]

Gail E. Zimmer from Fair Lawn, NJ

I've had MS since 1977 and Parkinson's for the last few years. I'm not yet seriously disabled by either but am often uncomfortable or in pain and am increasingly losing independence. I no longer drive, need some help dressing, and my husband is responsible for meal preparation, which means I eat when he feels like going to the kitchen. I may have another 20 years of life ahead of me and would like to know that ALL options are available, including assisted suicide. I think that choosing death can be a rational decision having nothing to do with depression. The thought of possibly lingering on for years marking time in a nursing home is totally unappealing!

Jul. 06 2012 12:38 PM
Mary Copeland from The Bronx

My father passed away 2 years ago at Jewish Home & Hospital in the Bronx. I will always be very grateful to his primary doctor at the nursing home who called a medical plan meeting with my mother and me. He had been in and out of congestive heart failure and kidney failure for a decade and when she said he needed to go on dialysis, we said absolutely not. His quality of life was gone and she then informed us that we had the right to discontinue all of his other medication, bring in hospice and let him go. We will be forever grateful to her for her compassion and ethics. He started hospice without having to change facilities, but still lingered for another 5 months. I received the Medicare Summary Notices of the Jacob Perlow Hospice charges: $500/per 15 minutes for an unskilled aide who sat by his bed while he slept and occasionally fed him tiny amounts of food. I called Medicare a couple of times to try to discuss these outrageous bills and no one ever returned my phone calls or seemed interested in pursuing what I consider Medicare fraud and abuse. I am still troubled by this and wonder if I should look into an advocate who deals with these issues. There must be a better way to take care of our loved ones without creating these insane financial burdens for society.

Jul. 05 2012 01:55 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Physician-assisted suicide should never be allowed unless pain & depression are either ruled out or adequately treated. I'm glad Dr. Byock said that if a patient requests it because of pain, it's a failure of treatment.

Jul. 05 2012 01:45 PM
talia from brooklyn, ny

Calling the decision to choose a dignified death 'suicide' is destructive and offensive.
Having watched my father go so far behind the point of being able to "press a bell to ask to go to the bathroom" or "be helped to eat" I know that this doctor is blind to what suffering and lack of dignity can really mean.
If he wants to have a conversation unclouded by that which surrounds the right of a dying patient to control when he chooses to die and how much he choses to suffer, that is fine. Then why voice your personal political/religious views so vociforously.

Jul. 05 2012 01:45 PM

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