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Last Rights: Rescuing the End of Life from the Medical Systemby Stephen Kiernan
Synopses & Reviews
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 nations 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 Americas substandard care of people who are dying. Recent medical advances have dramatically reduced sudden causes of death like heart attacks, strokes, and accidents. Today peoples 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 doesnt 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 Centers 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.
Book News Annotation:
In this text for general readers, journalist Kiernan tackles some of the thorny issues that result from medical efforts to prolong human life. Drawing upon research in medical journals as well as interviews with patients, doctors, and families, he explains how the American experience of dying has changed in the past 30 years and suggests practical ways of improving end-of-life care. The emphasis throughout is on the value of making people's last days as peaceful and pain-free as possible. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
“Gripping…A superb resource for boomers dealing with their parents final days…as well as for health-care professionals who need to hear this story from the other side.”
With advances in medicine, technology, and daily diet and exercise practices, Americans are living longer than ever before. We have an unprecedented opportunity for meaningful closure - free of pain, among loved ones, with our affairs in order and spiritual calm attained. Instead, most of us discover that our doctor has minimal training in providing end-of-life care, and will seek to extend life no matter how painful, expensive and futile that effort might be.
In Last Rights, award-winning journalist Stephen P. Kiernan 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.
In a groundbreaking investigation, 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 and little regard for their wishes.
About the Author
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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