The Best Care Possible: A Physician's Quest to Transform Care Through the End of Life
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The Best Care Possible: A Physician's Quest to Transform Care Through the End of Life

4.27 of 5 stars 4.27  ·  rating details  ·  132 ratings  ·  33 reviews
A palliative care doctor on the front lines of hospital care illuminates one of the most important and controversial ethical issues of our time on his quest to transform care through the end of life.

It is harder to die in this country than ever before. Statistics show that the vast majority of Americans would prefer to die at home, yet many of us spend our last days fearf...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published March 15th 2012 by Avery
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Steven Chang
A MUST read for any future physicians, pre-health students, or anyone that is interested in a career that deals with patients. Byock understands exactly what this generation has become and what it needs to be regarding care for terminal patients. He shares many stories and examples of what it truly means to care for a patient. Countless times, we hear physicians say, "I'm sorry, there is nothing more we can do to help your illness." Byock argues that should NOT be the case for any physician beca...more
Meghan
I may be biased because I have had the opportunity to work with Dr. Byock and his team at Dartmouth- he and his team are some very special people. I may also be biased because I focus on and promote Palliative care in my practice as a staff nurse. However, this is an excellent read for both practitioners and lay people on prioritizing PEOPLE in healthcare not diagnosis a by providing the best care possible - especially leading to and during the last phase of one's life. I recommend ALL his books...more
Sevenponds
The Best Care Possible: A Physician’s Quest to Transform Care Through the End of Life is author and doctor Ira Byock, M.D.’s latest opus on end-of-life care. The palliative care physician’s reflections on being a “doctor to the dying” are an expression of hope, filled with real-life stories of love and strength in the face of impending loss – but they’re also an urgent call to action for medical reform.

Reform for Ira Byock means better doctor-patient/family relationships; it means changing the w...more
Laurie
Dr. Byock is the head of the department of palliative care at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and a professor at the associated medical school. This means he has dealt with a lot of patients who are reaching the end of their lives; his job is to make that end as comfortable and stress free as possible for both them and their families. It is his contention that Americans today suffer more and die worse deaths- and more expensive deaths- than ever before. How is this possible in an age when the...more
David Ellis
This book helped me clarify my thinking about end-of-life care and the conversations families need to have before it is too late. Neglecting to carefully make and share specific choices risks subjecting the dying person to multiple, futile resuscitations and prolonged, hopeless lingering before the death finally, inevitably occurs.


This book does not argue for euthanasia or assisted suicide. As the author makes clear, these two controversial issues distract our attention from the values and conce...more
Lynn
Too many comments and favorite quotes to include them all here. Standouts:
"...we're just kicking the can down the road."
"Until you're convinced she is safe, don't leave your mother alone."
"dying is hard, but it does not have to be this hard."
"Dying is the most inevitable fact of life.". DUH!!!
I propose that that until we develop a culture of respect for our elderly AND believe aging is a good thing rather than a feared thing, dying and the process of dying will continue to be hard for the dyin...more
Saysha
I heard Dr. Byock on NPR and was really impressed. The book teaches its reader how to improve end-of- life care. The "best care possible" includes life-prolonging treatments, pain management, tenderness, and respect for people's right to say when enough is enough. As a palliative care specialist his suggestions are very practical ones: providing support for caregivers, using hospice sooner, supporting the dying in our communities, making corrections to our healthcare system and doctors' educatio...more
Lola
I didn't read the entire book--just skipped here & there; what I did read was interesting.
Our country is messed up when it comes to medical care.
Don't ever think that your advance directive will be followed--or even looked at.
Always have a family member present when your care is not acceptable; have them stay with you
until the care is acceptable--whether in the hospital or a nursing home.

If your doctor leaves the exam room before answering all your questions, stay put.
They will need the room...more
Michael Woods
A very good book that can serve as an introduction to the hospice/palliative care movement. I read it as a hospital chaplain who is often called upon to provide spiritual care to patients and their families near the end of life. Byock's perspective is full of compassion for the dying patient and their loved ones. I believe this should be a must reading for all health care workers.
Courtney
Realistic look at major issue in US health care - allowing patients to die well. Docs trainned to be reactive to diseases/injuries rather than proactive in trying to prevent same. For all our advances, as Dr. Byock says, we will never be able to do away with death. His conclusions:
1. "We must escape our fixation with diseases and health care rather than people's well being."
2. "We must get beyond seeing people solely as individuals/patients and begin seeing people as individuals within families...more
Emily
This book explains what palliative care near the end of life entails, how hospice can improve the quality of life even as one is dying, and the beliefs and laws that make it all more difficult than it needs to be. The author, a physician specializing in palliative care, writes of case studies, and has a good bibliography as well as a list of internet references. I would recommend this book for anyone, but especially those of us who are getting to be close to retirement.
Joanne
I read this book and immediately felt I should reread it. Dr Byock does a great job of sharing his experiences with palliative care and then applying those experiences to the greater health care worls around him. I will be reading other things he has written and reading books he recommended in this book. The more I am part of the end of people's lives, the more I feel like we could do a better job during those last hours, days, or months.
Deb
Like it or not, no one lives forever. Once you get over that, it's time to think about what choices you want to make for yourself, and which ones you are OK letting others decide for you. Dr. Byock gives simple, clear explanations for things that you don't think about ahead of time, necessarily, when it comes to health care decisions. It's good info for anyone to read, but especially helpful for those of us who work in healthcare.
Rachel
I loved this. I'm interested in palliative medicine and this book was a great example of the more holistic approach it takes. I disagree with his views on physician assisted suicide but his arguments were well thought out and opened up new aspects of the debate that I hadn't thought about before. Only four stars because I found it got repetitive towards the end
S Beverage
An important topic that Americans tend to avoid - especially pertinent given what has been going on in my family, and the loss of my father in law.

We need to talk to each other honestly about how we can live our lives well, all the way to the end, and what that means both personally and for us as a society.

Definitely worth reading.
Samuel Brown
Not quite as good as his earlier _Dying Well_, but Byock continues to exhibit a good mind and a great soul as he works through issues relevant to our current engagement with life near the end of life. We should all be so fortunate as to have a doctor like Ira Byock at our side when it is our time to prepare to leave.
Beverly Musto
Every Baby Boomer should read this book. It is eye opening. We need to be able to discuss end of life care/wishes in our personal lives and in healthcare in general. This is not "death panals," but making end of life care available to every so that they can enjoy quality of life to the very end.
Katherine
A passionate argument for the value of hospice palliative care in America. Though the funding of health care in Canada is markedly different from the US, Byock's book speaks to the urgency of our coming to grips with the needs of dying people and their families.
Debbie
An important book about our healthcare system. Anyone who doesn't want their loved ones (or self) to become victims of our system should read this. It is both inspiring and tragic. The author urges us to demand changes, for the sake of everyone.
Sherry Tippey
Dr. Byock celebrates life by advocating for the most compassionate care for those who are dying. A must read for caregivers and relatives of elders; together we must face end-of-life issues with sensitivity and reverence.
Dick Muir
A remarkable book that uses many stories to illustrate the concept of palliative care from all directions; the patient, the family and the caregivers whether they be family, friends or healthcare professionals.
Andrea van der Hoek
If you've had any contact with this content before, parts of the book can seem redundant, but overall, this is an excellent introduction to understanding palliative care and the potential benefits.
Rebecca


One of my gravest concerns is that we do die so poorly on this country. Why don't we discuss it? Support those in the process of dying, and comfort their loved ones.
Deb
A book that does an excellent job of discussing care at the end of life. Very accessible to non-healthcare professionals, but equally valuable for them.
Steve
I only read the beginning of the book but want to get it again. Many of the chapters are personal stories that I would like to hear.
Fay
A helpful and informative book.......not such a bad idea for aging patients and their families to read. Ironically it's a comforting read.
Donna
This book really clarified and revised my thinking about lots of end-of-life issues. Very worthwhile.
Tom
Another Awesome book by Ira. This should be read by everyone in healthcare. Unbeleivable. Thanks, Ira.
Marcia B
Everyone who has loved ones should read this book!!
Carol Roeder
Amazing book. Must read for all practitioners.
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