Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Best Care Possible: A Physician's Quest to Transform Care Through the End of Life” as Want to Read:
The Best Care Possible: A Physician's Quest to Transform Care Through the End of Life
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  361 ratings  ·  56 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

...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published March 15th 2012 by Avery
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Best Care Possible, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Best Care Possible

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.28  · 
Rating details
 ·  361 ratings  ·  56 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of The Best Care Possible: A Physician's Quest to Transform Care Through the End of Life
Steven Chang
Jul 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Meghan Poperowitz
Apr 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Laurie
Jun 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Lisa Shultz
Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: end-of-life
Ira Byock, MD has written another gem of a book. If you don't understand the power of palliative care to foster quality life, comfort at the end of life, and the prospect of gentle death, this book will illuminate you. Filled with patient stories that show how addressing death and working together to achieve a peaceful end of life is possible and can create healing and closure.
The end of the book is a strong call to transform the way we die in America. The author feels that "How we die is
...more
Lola
May 09, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Kathryn
Mar 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Written by one of the leaders in the Palliative Care field, this writer is a good story-teller, and tells the reader interesting and illustrative stories about some of his dying patients. Probably the most salient and astonishing point he makes in the book, is that patients, facing a life-threatening illness, who tell their doctors to do "whatever it takes, at all costs", in order to prolong their life, statistically, don't live as long as patients who tell their doctors to make them as ...more
Kathleen Ambrose
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: end-of-life
This is an excellent book! Palliative care and hospice care are differentiated and at the same time shown to be unified in their goal to provide the means for the best care possible in the end of life.
Seven years after this book was published, there are many more discussions, more books published and more palliative-hospice programs being developed. I wonder how many were indirectly fruits of this work.
I particularly liked hearing the stories of the different patients and Dr. Byocks
...more
Anvesh
Mar 23, 2020 added it
I couldn't get through series of accounts of patients who are closer to death narrated in a story form. I had read through 30% and couldn't read more, it is not lack of empathy but writing style didn't give that connect you look for when you read a grim book like this.
Ann
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Y'all. Please read this. Talk to your loved ones about their frickin wishes for end of life. Use the resources available to have the best care possible and enable your loved ones to die well.
Christine Cazeneuve
Jan 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Important reading. A detailed and rational look at the end of life care. Very interesting and much food for thought. A very good read.
David Quinn
There might be lots of very useful information in this book. The only problem is you need to read the friggin' thing to get to it and I couldn't even get to page 50 before I threw in the towel. Dr. Byock walks a very fine line between explaining how he goes about his business and being a shameless humblebrag.

I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt because I genuinely respect his line of work and am interested in the subject matter but the I, I, I, me, me, me started causing me to daydream
...more
Sallie
Aug 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a perfect companion piece to "Being Mortal," which I recently reviewed. Byork has ideas that should spark reform in this book with a positive and loving message. Everyone should be able to expect humane care and comfort as they reach the end of their lives--and not be subjected to treatment without a substantial possibility of improving the quality of days--not just their quantity.

In Byork's opinion, we'll need almost a revolution to bring Americans to the place where they can accept
...more
Dorothy Mahoney
Feb 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Byock uses many patient examples from years of experience with palliative care. His strong point,
given in his lectures is "alleviating suffering and eliminating the sufferer are very different acts."
He reverts back to before the 1960's when childbirth was considered a medical event and that dying
needs a similar over haul. He advocates music, poetry and stories, and includes Marge Piercy's poem, "To be of Use" and a Franz Kafka poem about the world offering itself at your feet. Communication is
...more
Sevenponds
May 20, 2014 rated it liked it
The Best Care Possible: A Physicians 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 physicians 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 theyre also an urgent call to action for medical reform.

Reform for Ira Byock means better doctor-patient/family relationships; it means changing the way we
...more
Tiger Gray
I loved this book. Written by a doctor involved in palliative care, it offers many fresh and invaluable perspectives for the care worker. I found the sections on narrative note taking incredibly useful. How to take notes that are realistic and yet empowering towards the patient has long been a topic of debate in the medical world, and having this perspective before I too enter that system is a wonderful thing (I can well remember unfair and stigmatizing notes in my own charts, too).

Secondly,
...more
David Ellis
Jun 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Lynn
Mar 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Saysha
Aug 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-group
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' ...more
Kate
I appreciate the work that went into Ira Byocks book, The Best Care Possible. He is, without a doubt, one of a handful of the absolute top palliative care physicians in the country. Clearly, this is a person committed to his work, and to his patients. If the term, palliative care is new to you, then you will have a much more nuanced understanding of what it means by the time youve finished this. I find myself comparing this book to Atul Gawandes Being Mortal. For lyricism, Atul is the better ...more
Courtney
May 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Kate
Feb 06, 2013 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed the first 3/4 of this book, a lot more than I was expecting to. The personal stories of different people and their experience with hospice I found very persuasive and effective. Even if the author did seem a little full of himself about his ability to change people's lives for the better (both his patients and his students)...But then the last section turned to physician assisted suicide and society's obligations as caregivers and etc. I quickly lost interest in reading one ...more
LINCCReviews
Jun 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An excellent look at what care for the dying should be, what palliative and hospice care means and why no one should die in the ICU. As a person who worked in the medical field for years, not much of it was new to me but it reaffirmed and added to what I already knew.



Since all of us and all the people we love are going to die, I wish everyone would read at least the first few chapters of this excellent book. Sadly, I think the people who really need to read it the most, especially those who
...more
Jessica Bang
Nov 12, 2014 rated it liked it
The urgency for change is what I appreciate here. The anecdotes are (inevitably) touching. That being said, the way the public is told to go about reformation is too broad. To the people who don't know to advocate and vote for politicians effectively (immigrant Americans, younger Americans)? To those whose family's cultural/religious beliefs affect death and dying in much more complicated ways? If anything, this book can spark a lot of discussion. One can only hope things will get done after ...more
Rev. Deb
Oct 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Emily
Jul 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
May 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Julie
Aug 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Not a subject any of us wants to think about, but he does a wonderful job of making us consider how we want our loved ones to end their lives, in comfort and at home, or in pain in the hospital. Unfortunately, those seem to be the only options in today's medical system. He also explains the crucial difference between hospice and palliative care.
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.
S Beverage
Feb 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
Angi
Feb 05, 2015 rated it liked it
I appreciate Dr. Byock's cheer "to life" in this book. Many chapters were so easy to agree with - we must change the health care system to better respect end of life decisions; while others left room for continued thought - the debate about physician assisted suicide and the idea of pampering patients as much as we can.
« previous 1 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Miniature Wife and Other Stories
  • Final Exam: A Surgeon's Reflections on Mortality
  • The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection
  • The Other Jesus: Rejecting a Religion of Fear for the God of Love
  • Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me
  • Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs, and Communications of the Dying
  • Cristallisation Secrète
  • Fu#@ing Seriously?: Real Stories from a Small-Town ER
  • Ew! Ew! Ew!: Real Stories from a Small-Town ER
  • A Double Dose of Dilaudid: Real Stories from a Small-Town ER
  • You Called 911 for This?: Real Stories from a Small-Town ER
  • How Long Will This Take? I Have Stuff to Do
  • The First Queen of England Part 2 (The First Queen of England, #2)
  • The First Queen of England Part 3 (The First Queen of England, #3)
  • ER Days
  • ER Stories from the Inside
  • Trauma Room Two
  • People of the ER
See similar books…

Related Articles

Need another excuse to treat yourself to new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our lis...
43 likes · 10 comments
“The healthiest response to death is to love, honor, and celebrate life.” 3 likes
“Dying doesn’t cause suffering. Resistance to dying does.” 1 likes
More quotes…