Many Americans, it seems, have a hard time talking about death. Even doctors struggle to deal with the mortality of patients who they know aren’t going to make it.
It’s been more than 15 years since the Institute of Medicine released its seminal 1997 report detailing the suffering many Americans experience at the end of life and offering sweeping recommendations on how to improve care.
It's difficult to know what to do for a loved one in the end stages of a terminal illness. Certainly, palliative care is often very effective, and it's the preferred approach for almost everyone who is dying in pain. But for some, palliative care isn't enough. Four states - Montana, Oregon, Vermont and Washington - allow a terminally ill patient to choose to end his life and ask for assistance in doing so.
When the annual Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) conference began in 1984, the Los Angeles Times called it "an obscure gathering of engineers, theorists and artists." But in the nearly three decades since then, TED has morphed into a series of mind-expanding showcases staged in several countries that attract scores of celebrity visionaries, ranging from physicist Steven Hawking and neurologist Oliver Sacks to former President Bill Clinton and rock stars Bono and Peter Gabriel. Better yet, the nonprofit Sapling Foundation, which stages the conferences, now makes hundreds of TED talks available on its website. (If you're not sure which ones to pick, you can even listen to playlists of TED talks selected by luminaries in various fields.)
Imagine you were suffering from a terminal illness and a treatment could boost your immune system to help fight the disease. The drug would not be a cure, may extend your life by about 4 months and costs $93,000 per patient.
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