“This country is fairly crowded with doctors, families, and patients—all possessed of good intentions—failing to achieve the simple goal of allowing people to die with dignity and grace.”
In the 1970s, most Americans died swiftly and brutally: of heart attacks, strokes, cancer, or in accidents. But in the past three decades, medical advances have extended our lives and changed the way we die. In Last Rights, Stephen Kiernan reveals the disconnect between how patients want to live the end of life—pain free, functioning mentally and physically, surrounded by family and friends—and how the medical system continues to treat the dying—with extreme interventions, at immense cost, and with little regard to pain, human comforts, or even the stated wishes of patients and families. Backed with surveys, interviews, and intimate portraits of people from all walks of life, from the dying and their families to the doctors and nurses who care for them, this book will be for our time what Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s books were for a previous generation.
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· Half of people who die in hospitals today suffer severe untreated pain.
· Residents were abused in one-third of U.S. nursing homes in 2003.
· Health expenses are the nation’s leading cause of personal bankruptcy.
· Only six U.S. medical schools require students to take a course on care of the dying.
These are just a few of the incredible findings award-winning journalist Stephen P. Kiernan reveals in Last Rights, an exposé of America’s substandard care of people who are dying. Recent medical advances have dramatically reduced sudden causes of death like heart attacks, strokes, and accidents. Today people’s lives end slowly, giving them an unprecedented opportunity for meaningful closure---free of pain, among loved ones, with their affairs in order and spiritual calm attained.
Instead, most Americans discover that their doctor has minimal training in providing the care they need, and will seek to extend life no matter how painful, expensive, and futile that effort might be. Patients and families watch as their wishes are ignored. They experience a nightmare of hospitals, specialists, high-tech treatments, and helplessness dealing with a medical system that means well but does not listen.
It doesn’t have to be that way. In Last Rights, Kiernan tells the stories of people who died after enduring avoidable pain and needless indignities. More important, he shares the stories of people whose last days were pain free, who lived life fully right to the last moment. Above all, he shows how patients and families can regain control of the dying process, creating familial intimacy like never before.
Bolstered by both scientific research and intimate portraits of people from all walks of life, Last Rights offers a hopeful, profound vision for patients, doctors, and families: a way to honor people during their greatest vulnerability, a chance for families to reconnect, an opportunity for the medical system to treat patients with ultimate respect, a time to give comfort and compassion to those we most love. Stephen P. Kiernan has written for The Boston Globe and other publications, and for fourteen years wrote for the Burlington Free Press as a columnist, editorial writer, and investigative reporter. He received the George Polk Award for medical reporting, the Joseph Brechner Center’s Freedom of Information Award, and has been a two-time finalist for the Gerald Loeb Award for Financial Journalism. Kiernan lives with his two sons in Vermont. Visit www.stephenpkiernan.com.
STEPHEN KIERNAN is a writer and journalist for the Burlington Free Press. His numerous awards include the Gerald Loeb Award for Financial Journalism, the Associated Press Managing Editors' Freedom of Information Award, and the George Polk Award. He lives in Charlotte, Vermont.
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Book Description St. Martin's Press, 2006. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Hard back book New with jacket [ tan ]. Bookseller Inventory # 022816015
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