Last Rights: Rescuing the End of Life from the Medical System

Front Cover
Macmillan, Nov 14, 2006 - Family & Relationships - 301 pages
“This country is fairly crowded with doctors, families, and patients—all possessed of good intentions—failing to achieve the simple goal of allowing people to die with dignity and grace.”
In the 1970s, most Americans died swiftly and brutally: of heart attacks, strokes, cancer, or in accidents. But in the past three decades, medical advances have extended our lives and changed the way we die. In Last Rights, Stephen Kiernan reveals the disconnect between how patients want to live the end of life—pain free, functioning mentally and physically, surrounded by family and friends—and how the medical system continues to treat the dying—with extreme interventions, at immense cost, and with little regard to pain, human comforts, or even the stated wishes of patients and families. Backed with surveys, interviews, and intimate portraits of people from all walks of life, from the dying and their families to the doctors and nurses who care for them, this book will be for our time what Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s books were for a previous generation.
 

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LAST RIGHTS: Rescuing the End of Life from the Medical Establishment

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An impassioned appeal for a kinder, gentler death.George Polk Award-winner Kiernan, a reporter for the Burlington Free Press (Vermont), argues that last-ditch efforts to prolong life are leading ... Read full review

Last rights: rescuing the end of life from the medical system

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Most people find it difficult to face their own mortality and that of their loved ones. This book compassionately and skillfully addresses this difficult, emotional issue. Kiernan, a journalist with ... Read full review

Contents

Last Hours
3
This Is the News
7
A Baby and a Basketball Game
18
A Dog Is Better Than a Pill
23
So Much Potential
47
NOT AN EMERGENCY
49
What Is a Crisis?
51
Possible Paths
55
No One in Charge
138
The Economics of Dying
152
The Most Important Time
159
SMELLING THE ROSES
177
Her Wishes Were Totally Ignored
179
The Desire for Control
183
Dreams Coming True
191
The Final Caress
207

Still Alive
65
Mysteries of Life
70
Two Visions
72
HEAL THYSELF
75
Doctors Beginnings
77
Take Five Years
82
A Piece of Cake
88
This Was Medicine
95
Maybe I Can Make You Laugh
103
Barriers to Change
109
MEDICINE AND LOVE ARE NOT THE SAME THING
125
One Experience
127
Families as Problems
130
We Can Celebrate
216
A GIFT OF SILVER
221
Lobster Newburg
223
A Bowl of Applesauce
233
Illness As Opportunity
240
THE LESSON OF THE LEAVES
243
The Endless Cycle
245
An Agenda for Improvement
247
Four Final Lessons
270
Sources and Resources
277
Acknowledgments
289
Index
291
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

STEPHEN KIERNAN is a writer and journalist for the Burlington Free Press. His numerous awards include the Gerald Loeb Award for Financial Journalism, the Associated Press Managing Editors' Freedom of Information Award, and the George Polk Award. He lives in Charlotte, Vermont.

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