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While nearly everyone hopes to die peacefully at home, surrounded by those they love, it usually doesn't turn out that way. Thirty percent of Americans die in nursing homes, more than half die in hospitals and nearly half of those people spend their last days in intensive care units.
In his book The Best Care Possible, Dr. Ira Byock argues that the way most Americans die is a national disgrace — an ethical, moral and economic crisis that will get a great deal worse as the baby boomers age.
He adds that a difficult but fixable set of issues has been made worse by political polarization, by advocates of physician assisted suicide who accuse doctors of forcing patients to suffer, and by vehement elements of the pro-life movement, who accuse them of promoting a culture of death.
Byock talks with NPR's Neal Conan to talk about his quest to transform end of life care.