The Current

Doctors busy prolonging life have lost sight of end-of-life care

According to Doctor Atul Gawande, the one thing they don't teach young doctors in medical school ... is the one thing we know will one day afflict us all. He talks about end of life care and his book, "Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End."
Oncologist Atul Gawande believes doctors spend so much time helping people live longer, they've neglected how to improve the quality of life at the end. (Tim-Llewellyn)
"I learned about a lot of things at med school. Mortality wasn't one of them."  - Dr.  Atul   Gawande

As we busily live our lives, most of us give little thought to what we will want and need at the end of our life.

Determining those priorities is the theme of a recent book by Doctor Atul Gawande, a surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and a professor at the Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. The book is called, "Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End."  

In November of last year Anna Maria Tremonti spoke with Doctor Atul Gawande.  At that time a young woman named Brittany Maynard had just made difficult choices about her end of life. 

"I hope to pass in peace. The reason to consider life and what's of value is to make sure you're not missing out. Seize the day. What's important to you? What do you care about? What matters? Pursue that. Forget the rest." - Brittany  Maynard

Tomorrow we will continue the discussion on end of life care. Many of Canada's doctors also feel they must do all they can to prolong life. We'll hear from some advocates who think about the consequences of extending life at all costs.

Tell us your stories. Is this a discussion you are facing right now with a family member? 

Tweet us @TheCurrentCBC, post on Facebook or if you need more space to tell your story, send us an email.

This segment was produced by The Current's Liz Hoath. 


♦ Long Term Care Planning Network 
♦ Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians
♦ Study: What really matters in end-of-life discussions?