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A doctor on the front lines of hospital care illuminates one of the most important and controversial social issues of our time. It is harder to die in this country than ever before. Though the vast majority of Americans would prefer to die at home-which hospice care provides-many of us spend our last days fearful and in pain in a healthcare system ruled by high-tech procedures and a philosophy to "fight disease and illness at all cost." Dr. Ira Byock, one of the foremost palliative-care physicians in the country, argues that how we die represents a national crisis today. To ensure the best possible elder care, Dr. Byock explains we must not only remake our healthcare system but also move beyond our cultural aversion to thinking about death. The Best Care Possible is a compelling meditation on medicine and ethics told through page-turning life-or-death medical drama. It has the power to lead a new national conversation.
Ira Byock, M.D., is director of Palliative Medicine at Dartmouth- Hitchcock Medical Center and a professor at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. He lives in Enfield, New Hampshire.