Recently one of my partners came in after the weekend and had a gift for me. The gift was the book Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by general surgeon Atul Gwande. 

My partner was enthusiastic and said this book is right on target.  As busy as life is with family, work, and a few hobbies, it took me a week or two to get started reading, however, once I did, it was hard to stop.

As I enter my 20th year of practicing family medicine, I have been witness to many patients and their loved ones’ lives at all stages.
As I age with my patients as well as go through different stages of life myself, I have realized that my goal for my patients is not for them to live forever, but for as long as they can, as well as they can, and then help them pass with dignity when the time comes. 

Dr. Gawande’s latest bookreally does an outstanding job of keeping quality of life at the forefront.

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I have always thought I was relatively practical about end-of life issues with patients and their families, but this book inspired me to reassess my approach.  

While I have always and continue to remain a steadfast supporter of hospice, this book takes you back a step further into the life and care of patients.  This is a time where we can help affect patient’s lives positively by focusing on their quality of life.

Medicine has made tremendous strides in many areas with research and technology, various surgical procedures, and other areas, however, many things we do that positively affect patients later in life, or near end of life do not necessarily need to be that complicated or modern.  Just asking a patient what is important to them and helping them be able to achieve or maintain their goals is a huge victory.

Being Mortal does an outstanding job of giving us increased insight to the focus on the quality of life for our patients and not just the length of life.  I truly enjoyed this book.  I would love to see it as part of medical school or residency required reading.