Atul Gawande

Being Mortal : Medicine and What Matters in the End

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Named a Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post, The New York Times Book Review, NPR, and Chicago Tribune, now in paperback with a new reading group guide

Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming the dangers of childbirth, injury, and disease from harrowing to manageable. But when it comes to the inescapable realities of aging and death, what medicine can do often runs counter to what it should.

Through eye-opening research and gripping stories of his own patients and family, Gawande reveals the suffering this dynamic has produced. Nursing homes, devoted above all to safety, battle with residents over the food they are allowed to eat and the choices they are allowed to make. Doctors, uncomfortable discussing patients' anxieties about death, fall back on false hopes and treatments that are actually shortening lives instead of improving them.

In his bestselling books, Atul Gawande, a practicing surgeon, has fearlessly revealed the struggles of his profession. Now he examines its ultimate limitations and failures-in his own practices as well as others'-as life draws to a close. Riveting, honest, and humane, Being Mortal shows how the ultimate goal is not a good death but a good life-all the way to the very end.

Specifications

Series Title
Kushiel's Legacy
Publisher
Picador
Book Format
Paperback
Original Languages
English
Number of Pages
304
Author
Atul Gawande
Title
Being Mortal
ISBN-13
9781250076229
Publication Date
September, 2017
Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H)
5.58 x 8.19 x 0.83 Inches
ISBN-10
1250076226

Customer Reviews

Average Rating:(4.6)out of 5 stars
5 stars
75
4 stars
25
3 stars
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2 stars
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1 star
1
Most helpful positive review
Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars
A MUST READ. IF YOU'RE BREATHING, READ THIS BOOK!
I highly recommend this book to everyone who is both actively breathing and cognitively aware. It is a tasteful, informative approach to a topic that we, as a whole, tend to avoid discussing. Cleverly employing storytelling as his explanatory vector, Atul Gawande charms his readers with engaging stories that span countries, scenarios and generations, effortlessly offering information and tools concerning the one thing most of us fear: Our own mortality.
Most helpful negative review
Average Rating:(2.0)out of 5 stars
I guess a lot people a...
I guess a lot people are in deep, deep denial.
Most helpful positive review
Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars
A MUST READ. IF YOU'RE BREATHING, READ THIS BOOK!
I highly recommend this book to everyone who is both actively breathing and cognitively aware. It is a tasteful, informative approach to a topic that we, as a whole, tend to avoid discussing. Cleverly employing storytelling as his explanatory vector, Atul Gawande charms his readers with engaging stories that span countries, scenarios and generations, effortlessly offering information and tools concerning the one thing most of us fear: Our own mortality.
Most helpful negative review
Average Rating:(2.0)out of 5 stars
I guess a lot people a...
I guess a lot people are in deep, deep denial.
I highly recommend this book to everyone who is both actively breathing and cognitively aware. It is a tasteful, informative approach to a topic that we, as a whole, tend to avoid discussing. Cleverly employing storytelling as his explanatory vector, Atul Gawande charms his readers with engaging stories that span countries, scenarios and generations, effortlessly offering information and tools concerning the one thing most of us fear: Our own mortality.
I guess a lot people are in deep, deep denial.

Frequent mentions

1-5 of 106 reviews
Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

A MUST READ. IF YOU'RE BREATHING, READ THIS BOOK!

I highly recommend this book to everyone who is both actively breathing and cognitively aware. It is a tasteful, informative approach to a topic that we, as a whole, tend to avoid discussing. Cleverly employing storytelling as his explanatory vector, Atul Gawande charms his readers with engaging stories that span countries, scenarios and generations, effortlessly offering information and tools concerning the one thing most of us fear: Our own mortality.

Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

I really would have gi...

I really would have given this 10 stars. Gawande is remarkable in his ability to make things clear. In an interview he claimed that his family and other readers kept telling him that he was boring here and there, etc. The stories he brings in make the subject all that more real and I can say that not only should everyone read this---it needs to be absorbed and used immediately---and with that....I'm working on it!!!

Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

Being Mortal is an exc...

Being Mortal is an excellent book which examines the situations which people can encounter near the end of life. Dr. Gawande discusses both the environments in which people can live as they age, and also the medical treatment which they can and should receive. Many older people want to live at home as long as possible. However, often at some point, they need more care than they can get at home. He points out the problems of nursing homes in general as being institutions stressing safety instead of the quality of life of their residents, and discusses the trend toward assisted living facilities which can have some of the same problems. Dr. Gawande paints a much more positive picture of hospice care as being a source of help for very ill patients and their families when the end of life is near. Dr. Gawande also examines the role of medicine for patients near the end of their lives. He emphasizes that doctors should find out what terminally ill persons want instead of doing heroic measures which may keep the people alive longer but often in great pain with a poor quality of life. He discusses the different approaches doctors use, and advocates that doctors work with patients and their families work to determine the proper treatment for the patient to live as fully as that person can. Although the emphasis is on the elderly, one of the many stories told as examples concerns a young, newly married woman who has her baby after becoming terminally ill. This review is based on the advance reader's edition and does not include the acknowledgments or index, and the endnotes are not numbered nor are their presence indicated in the text.

Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

Maybe if you dont hav...

Maybe if you don't have elderly relatives or friends, or have not suffered from a chronic disease, you can bypass this book. If you do, you'll regret missing such a clear-headed analysis of deciding how to live if you know the end of your life is approaching. It's likely, of course, that all of our "DNR" orders and "good death" resolutions will disappear when we are confronted by the spectre of only a few weeks or months left. Dr. Gawande, a surgeon at Brigham & Womens, tells us that most patients in that horrible place cannot comprehend just how brief their time left has become. We all seems to think we've got ten years left until a doctor finally gathers the courage to stop leading us on with false hope and tells us the truth. If the doctor ever does! Gawande's thesis is that doctors are not trained to tell patients news without no hope. He offers hospice care as the alternative to surgery, chemo, radiation, etc, that offer no relief from pain and no hope of recovery. Based on studies he cites, people actually live longer with good hospice care, if they use it as a means of creating a better death, so to speak. There is also a well written section on assisted living, and Dr. Gawande shares the saga of his own doctor father's death, during which, as son and doctor, he struggles with the same issues as he does with his own patients. Very highly recommended. Will make you think and think hard.

Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

This is a masterful lo...

This is a masterful look at the way the medical system approaches death. From the discomfort of discussing death until the last minute to the ethical dilemmas involved in the way we take autonomy from our aging population in the name of safety. Being Mortal is a very well written book and has a lot of insight into what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong in protecting patient rights, keeping people healthy and providing end of life care that gives the person a good death.


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