Letting Go

I want to draw people’s attention to a fantastic new piece in the New Yorker by Atul Gawande titled, “Letting Go: What should medicine do when it can’t save your life?” The stories told offer glimpses into the struggles of patients with life-threatening illnesses, family caregivers, nurses, and physicians – struggling to talk about the one clinical event everyone is 100% going to experience: death.

For anyone who has witnessed a loved one dying of Cancer, you will recognize the familiar progression of drugs, cytotoxic agents, radiation, surgery, clinical trials and encouraging statistics, leaving one’s quality of life severely compromised as the inevitable approaches.

Gawande does an outstanding job weaving patient stories, research findings, and health policy with the inner perspectives of physicians and nurses.   He gives the richest and most heartfelt account I have seen of the current state of the national convesation on death, difficult conversations, costs of care at the end-of-life, and quality of life.  I recommend that everyone read it.  Please share your thoughts or comments.

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