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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Sarah E. Hetue Hill, MA (Saint Louis University)
Description: Dr. Lawrence Schneiderman, respected physician and well known expert on ethics at the end of life, presents this book as a guide for wading through the chaos that occurs when having to make difficult decisions at the end of life.
Purpose: The book provides readers with the tools necessary to navigate treatment decisions that will occur during our own serious illnesses and those of our loved ones. As suggested in the preface, although most of us would prefer to die at home, a large majority of us will die in a healthcare facility hooked up to a myriad of machines and devices. This book is a timely and needed response to society's current immersion in the milieu of the technological imperative.
Audience: This is appropriate for a broad audience and is written in a manner that will be accessible to many, including those unfamiliar with medical terminology or ethics. The book also provides enough relevant information on the topics of empathy and empirical research to be useful to healthcare professionals whose patients are facing these intricate decisions.
Features: Throughout the book, the author recounts cases from his own practice as well as famous cases to illuminate his points. He provides a useful chapter on completing advance directives and another on how to accurately assess facts and statistics on treatment outcomes. He also incorporates literary references from Shakespeare, Chekhov, and Tolstoy into the text, and provides an appendix with poems by William Carlos Williams and Anne Sexton. The author concludes with a chapter addressing additional recent concerns in healthcare, including the need to provide universal healthcare and the inexorableness of rationing healthcare.
Assessment: This book is engaging, due in large part to the case studies and literary references. The concise arrangement of short chapters with numerous references makes the book manageable, but substantial enough to be valuable. The honest and realistic information is a welcome alternative to the inaccurate depictions of the end of life provided by the media.