Doctors are trained to keep their patients alive as long as possible. But they are never taught how to prepare people to die. And yet for many patients, particularly the old and terminally ill, death is a question of when, not if. Should the medical profession rethink its approach to them? And in what way? With aging populations and hospital costs rising globally, these questions have become increasingly relevant.
In his new book, Atul Gawande argues that an acceptance of mortality must lie at the center of the way we treat the dying. Using his experiences (and missteps) as a surgeon, comparing attitudes towards aging and death in the West and in India and drawing a powerful portrait of his father's final years-a doctor who chose how he should go-Gawande has produced a work that is not only an extraordinary account of loss but one whose ideas are truly important. Questioning, profound and deeply moving, Being Mortal is a masterpiece.