FHC #122: Navigating life’s final chapter with Atul Gawande

Fixing Healthcare welcomes Dr. Atul Gawande, a renowned surgeon, writer and public health researcher who currently serves as the Assistant Administrator for Global Health at USAID.

He has a rich background as both a medical professional and a compassionate individual. Ten years ago, Dr. Gawande published the bestselling book “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End,” which explored the intersection of medicine, aging, and the end-of-life journey. His father’s battle with a spinal tumor profoundly influenced the book, serving as a catalyst for Gawande to confront the limitations of medical interventions and the importance of addressing patients’ individual goals and fears as they approach the end of their lives.

This episode explores:

  • Gawande’s personal story as he reflects on his father’s battle with a spinal tumor, highlighting the complexities and emotional challenges of dealing with serious health issues within a family.
  • His father’s journey from being a vibrant individual and a dedicated surgeon to facing the limitations imposed by his illness provides; a profound context for the discussion on end-of-life care.
  • Difficult decisions that families and patients face when confronted with terminal illnesses, along with the nuances of choosing between aggressive treatments and palliative care.
  • Approaches to end-of-life care that respect the patient’s wishes and focus on enhancing the quality of life rather than merely extending it.
  • The significance of having open and honest conversations about end-of-life preferences and the limitations of medical interventions.

This episode is part of the ninth season of Fixing Healthcare with cohosts Dr. Robert Pearl and Jeremy Corr.

Tune in for the full interview and join the conversation on social media.

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Dr. Robert Pearl is the author of a book about medicine’s invisible yet highly influential physician culture. Check out “Uncaring: How Physician Culture Is Killing Doctors & Patients.” All profits from the book go to Doctors Without Borders.

Fixing Healthcare is a co-production of Dr. Robert Pearl and Jeremy Corr. Subscribe to the show via Apple, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you find podcasts. Join the conversation or suggest a guest by following the show on Twitter and LinkedIn.