Fighting for Life, or Prolonging Death?

Layers of efforts to extend life for the terminally ill are leaving patients, families—even doctors—holding out for a miracle instead of preparing for the inevitable, writes Atul Gawande.

25% of all Medicare spending goes to the 5% of patients in their final year of life.

Marked by endless ventilators, electrical defibrillation and intensive care, our health system’s norm of highly-technological end of life care for the terminally ill fails to meet the core preferences of the dying—avoiding suffering, the company of family, and not becoming a burden.

“This is a modern tragedy, replayed millions of times over,” Gawande writes.

The New Yorker

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