Ira Byock, M.D., is the Director of Palliative Medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire, and a professor at Dartmouth Medical School. Dr. Byock has been a consistent advocate for the voice and rights of incurably ill patients and their families. The author of Dying Well, Byock has been featured prominently in a Peabody Award-winning 60 Minutes story titled "The Cost of Dying" and profiled in The New York Times Magazine and The Boston Globe. He lives in Lebanon, New Hampshire.
This biography was last updated on 03/16/2012.
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Ira Byock on palliative care
Why did you decide to write this book?
Despite all the advances in medicine, far too many people who are seriously ill suffer needlessly and end up dying badly.
America's health care system is actually a disease-treatment system. People's health - including their physical, emotional, social and spiritual well-being, is often ignored in the quest to preserve life at all costs. In the process of battling disease, people often experience needless suffering, sometimes dying sooner than they should, sometimes lingering in a state of prolonged dying that few people would want.
Dying will never be easy. Similarly, caring for a loved one who is in the waning phases of life is inherently hard. All of us will eventually face the end of life, but neither dying nor caregiving has to be as hard as they are today. It would seem irresponsible for me to keep what I have learned from patients and families and my experience as a doctor over all these years to myself. In a sense I am but a conduit, learning from patients and their families and passing along to my contemporaries the insights I have gained
What do you mean by "the best care possible?"
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