End of Life Care

The sobering thing doctors do when they die

In “How Doctors Die,” a powerful essay that went viral in 2011, a physician described how his colleagues meet the end: They go gently. At the end of life, they avoid the mistakes — the intensive, invasive, last-ditch, expensive and ultimately futile procedures that many Americans endure until their very last breath. “Of course, doctors don’t want to die; they […]

The Good Death, When Breath Becomes Air and More

Death goes in and out of fashion. The topic lingers behind euphemisms for a few years, and then someone calls it forth again:Elisabeth Kübler-Ross with her disciplined On Death and Dying in 1969; Susan Sontag with her angry but profound Illness as Metaphor in 1978 and the empathetic follow-up AIDS and Its Metaphors, in 1988; Derek […]

Where in the world is the best place to die?

One of the most pervasive ideas about death in America is that we don’t do it well, dying in hospital beds after enduring unnecessary medical procedures instead of at home. It’s our uncomfortable relationship with death, the thinking goes, that’s pushing the relentless rise of our health-care spending to the highest in the world. A new study of […]

“Right To Die” Becomes Law In California

California has just become the fifth state to legalize so-called “aid in dying.” Under the law, certain terminally ill California residents can elect to end their lives with the help of a doctor’s prescription. Following an emotionally-charged debate, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill into law Monday, writing, “in the end, I was left to […]

When Hospices Mistreat The Dying, They Almost Never Get Punished

More dying Americans than ever now spend their last days in the care of a hospice, a service that offers a gentle alternative to a hospital setting. Hospice providers give comfort to the terminally ill, often in their homes. The promise is of a dignified death, surrounded by loved ones. But when a hospice fails […]