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And a Time to Die: How American Hospitals Shape the End of Life

3.73  ·  Rating Details  ·  64 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
Over the past thirty years, the way Americans experience death has been dramatically altered. The advent of medical technology capable of sustaining life without restoring health has changed where, when, and how we die. In this revelatory study, medical anthropologist Sharon R. Kaufman examines the powerful center of those changes: the hospital, where most Americans die to ...more
Paperback, 412 pages
Published September 15th 2006 by University Of Chicago Press (first published 2005)
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Ashley
This was a good, if dense, read that opened my eyes to end of life issues, specifically how death and dying occurs in hospitals. We've all heard about "life support" and "DNR (do not resucitate) orders", quality of life issues, suffering, and the like.

Like most people, before reading this book I had no idea that "life support" or "heroic measures" aren't one specific thing. They are more concepts, and as such, are open to interpretation. Kaufman is an anthropologist, so her approach is a little
...more
Jessica
I appreciated how much time the author spent researching for this book, including spending time in multiple hospitals to talk with patients, their families, and basically everyone that was part of the medical staff (although mostly nurses and doctors). It's a fairly easy read and hard to put down.

I didn't agree with all of her conclusions. She seems to be saying that there are big-picture driving forces (powered by Medicare reimbursement rules) that drive when patients get admitted and when pat
...more
Erin
Sep 28, 2012 Erin rated it it was amazing
This was an assigned reading for my college medical anthropology class but I was glad I had to read it. Kaufman filled this book with real life situations she encountered during her research. You'll read about men and women (not always elderly) who are dying of one thing or another and see how the patients themselves, their families, and the medical staff deal with (or don't deal with) their situations.

Kaufman uses these true stories to show how patients need to make their wishes clear but how t
...more
Leslie
Jul 20, 2009 Leslie rated it really liked it
This is a thoughtful ethnographic study of the dying process of the hospital, more specifically of critical illness (both acute and chronic). Although as a medical provider I chaffed at some of the interpretations, I did not wholly disagree with any of them. She formulates modern death in terms of technological cultural imperatives as well as bureaucratic time pressures. She postulates that Nature has lost its grounding function in shaping our sense of the morality of dying because technology ha ...more
Lisa
Oct 14, 2013 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a must read. It's an eye opener to the challenges we face at the end of life and provides a look at the politics of living and dying in American hospitals. The discourse is different for everyone, but if we are more aware we may be better prepared to shape the end of life to meet our personal aspirations for a decent death.
Yifei Men
Jan 17, 2013 Yifei Men rated it liked it
An interesting read on a heavy topic. Wonderful introduction to the healthcare system in relation to end-of-life care. A tad long though, and the later anecdotes don't seem to contribute much to the overall argument.
Kathy
Mar 15, 2010 Kathy added it
This book validates my reaction to the experience I've been having over the past two weeks while my husband's father was in the hospital. A good study, well written. And a very odd mostly American phenomenon.
K
Sep 29, 2008 K rated it liked it
Shelves: sociology
Reading this definitely changed my opinions about what I would like happen if I were to need life-preserving technology - but in many places, the book is redundant.
Margaret
Aug 11, 2007 Margaret rated it did not like it
There were parts that were interesting but it was very dry. I did not finish it.
Kipahni
Sep 03, 2007 Kipahni rated it really liked it
this book helped me with my research.
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Sharon R. Kaufman is Chair of the Department of Anthropology, History and Social Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. She is the author of …And a Time to Die: How American Hospitals Shape the End of Life.
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