A recent study funding by the National Institute of Nursing Research and the National Institute of Aging found through interviews with 196 physicians that only nine of the attending physicians, three residents and five interns discussed the possibility of dying with patients: 17 out of 196. Ira Byock, MD, Director of Palliative Medicine, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center states, Today you cannot graduate from medical school without two hundred hours of obstetrics. Even though very few doctors will actually deliver a baby, and even though only fifty percent of the population will ever be at risk for an obstetric intervention, still three hundred hours is the standard. Yet death is something virtually every doctor will confront in his or her career, and one hundred percent of the population is at risk of needing effective end-of-life intervention. And death gets twenty-four hours in medical school. Only twenty-four. And at most schools, even that estimate is being generous.
Dr. Byock is the author of multiple books on end-of-life care. The titles of his work are an indication of his passion: Dying Well, The four Things that Matter Most, A Few Months to Live and Palliative and End-of-Life Pearls.
His dedication for better care for the living facing death did not start in the classroom but at the side of his father as Ira watched, advocated and participated in his dads care through illness, terminal diagnosis and as his life ended.
Dr. Byocks mission is clear. "I think it is realistic to hope for a future in which nobody has to die alone and nobody has to die with his pain untreated. But comfort and companionship are not all there is. I have learned from my patients and their families a surprising truth about dying: this stage of life holds remarkable possibilities."
Byock has begun a new initiative called Reclaiming the End of Life. This non-part is an effort will use the 2007 New Hampshire primary campaign as a means of capturing national attention to the plight of frail elders, dying people and family caregivers giving potential solutions to this national crisis.
Referrals for hospice care are given by physicians, nurses, friends, neighbors, the patient or family members. Call 1-877-324-1686 to learn more about High Peaks Hospice or visit our web site at www.highpeakshospice.com.