Penguin Books India 2015
As a medical professional, I have had people recommending this book to me on several occasions. Finally, after finishing this, I have realised why.
This book offers an alternative view to our traditional understanding of the role of medicine, which we take to be to fighting death and saving lives. In fact, we are told to 'preserve life' and to 'do not harm', which are part of the Hippocratic Oath that each one of us swears by as we graduate.
The ancient medical and surgical practices propounded by the likes of Charaka and Sushruta, as well as the entire system of Ayurvedic have either been relegated to the sidelines, or grouped under rather patronising categories called 'alternative therapies' and/or 'complementary therapies'.
Gawande's book combines real life anecdotes, views of pioneers in end-of-life care, findings from research studies, and his own insights into these prickly issues that are often brushed under the carpet.
Gawande points out that the real victory for end-of-life care would come about only when every physician and surgeon incorporates these principles into his/her own practice, thus obviating the need for a separate specialty of palliative care.
Hardly surprising then, that Being Mortal was given as a parting gift to each of the graduating medical students recently, at the international medical school where I teach.
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