Embracing Our Mortality: Hard Choices in an Age of Medical Miracles

  • ISBN 9780195339451

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While we would all prefer to die at home, quietly and peacefully, in fact most of us will die in a health care facility, many of us hooked up to machines and faced with tough alternatives. In Embracing Our Mortality, Dr. Lawrence J. Schneiderman captures medical decision-making in action at the end of life, a time when the physician's and patient's choices are the most difficult, and the most heart-wrenching to make. Vivid case studies are drawn from Dr. Schneiderman's fifty-year career that illuminate the challenging medical decisions many of us have to make when we are seriously, and possibly even terminally, ill. The cases deal with patients ranging from newborns to the elderly. We discover how the wrong decision can actually increase our pain and suffering, while adding little time, and virtually no quality, to the end of our lives. Schneiderman discusses the latest empirical research, showing the reader how to evaluate statistical claims and assess the probability that a particular course of treatment will significantly improve our medical condition.
Moreover, he draws on authors such as Tolstoy and Chekov to emphasise the importance of empathy and imagination in making these crucial decisions. Instead of promoting the false promises of "miracles," he urges patients, family members, and physicians to approach these difficult decisions with sensitive yet realistic outlooks, combining the latest medical technology and oldest humanistic visions. Perhaps most important, he underscores the life-enhancing value of honestly facing, and embracing, our mortality. Written by an eminent physician and ethicist recognised for his groundbreaking work on end-of-life medical issues, Embracing Our Mortality is an essential volume for everyone who wants the best possible care at the end of their life.
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