Books Overview > The Best Care Possible

The Best Care Possible

A Physician’s Quest to Transform Care Through the End of Life

Hardcover – ISBN 978-583-33459-1 $26.00 | 336 pages | 6″x 9″
Paperback – ISBN 9781583335123 $16.00 | 336 pages | 5.5″x 9″

A doctor on the front lines of hospital care illuminates one of the most important and controversial social issues of our time. It is harder to die in this country than ever before. Though the vast majority of Americans would prefer to die at home—which hospice care provides—many of us spend our last days fearful and in pain in a healthcare system ruled by high-tech procedures and a philosophy to “fight disease and illness at all cost.” Dr. Ira Byock, one of the foremost palliative-care physicians in the country, argues that how we die represents a national crisis today. To ensure the best possible elder care, Dr. Byock explains we must not only remake our healthcare system but also move beyond our cultural aversion to thinking about death. The Best Care Possible is a compelling meditation on medicine and ethics told through page-turning life-or-death medical drama. It has the power to lead a new national conversation.
  • “At a time when a long life can become a curse as readily as a blessing, this lucid and compassionate book points the way to more humane treatment of a life’s last days.”
    Rabbi Harold Kushner
    Author of “When Bad Things Happen to Good People”
  • This is a profoundly truthful book. Ira Byock uses powerful stories about real people to explain the complications, nuances and often absurdity of advanced illness in 21st century America. He shows how courage, shared decisions, wise doctors and nurses and palliative care can make the difference. Above all, he calls for a cultural transformation so we can deal with the end of life as individuals, families and society. Who should read it? All of us who are mortal.
    Bill Novelli, Professor
    Georgetown University and co-chair, the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care and former CEO, AARP
  • “There is no palliative care physician for whom I have more respect and admiration than Ira Byock. In this strikingly important book, he presents an agenda for end-of-life care that should serve as an ideal template on which to build our best hopes for the final days of those we love and of ourselves — and a corrective for our society.”
    Sherwin B. Nuland, MD
    Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics, author of “How We Die"
  • jack-wennberg.jpg
    In The Best Care Possible, Ira Byock tells us why we need to move beyond medicine’s fixation on conquering death to a vision of end-of-life care focused on the quality of the patient’s experience.  This is a beautifully written, highly personal account that makes real the struggle of patients and families to escape the “high-tech”, more is better imperative that dominates the American way of death. It provides compelling examples of how the physician, committed to reform, can help patients achieve the care they want and need. But Byock goes further: he makes the case that professional reform is only part of the solution; overcoming the medicalization of death will require the mobilization of the wider community in the support of the dying (and those with chronic illness).
    Jack Wennberg, MD
    “Tracking Medicine: a Researcher’s Quest to Understand Health Care”
  • Christiane Northrup
    The baby boom generation has transformed every stage of life we’ve touched. We’re now transforming the dying process. And Dr. Byock is leading the way … brilliantly!”
    Christiane Northrup, MD, ob/gyn physician
    New York Times bestsellers: “Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom” and “The Wisdom of Menopause”
  • Wesley-Smith.jpg
    Dr. Ira Byock, one of the nation’s premier medical experts on the loving care of dying patients, understands to the core of his being that “dying” isn’t “dead.” To the contrary, it is a time when people can be helped to live robustly as they prepare for that most universal of human experiences. In THE BEST CARE POSSIBLE, Byock issues a clarion call for all of us—whatever our political, ideological, religious, or any other persuasion—to join together in unity to create a Culture of Loving Care that will end the isolation of the dying, ease their suffering, banish their loneliness, and assure that we all remain important and cherished members of the human community no matter the state of our health, ability, or age.
    Wesley J. Smith
    “Forced Exit: Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide, and the New Duty To Die”
  • Donald Schumacher
    Once again, Dr. Ira Byock delivers a message of hope and promise to all of us who will face our own deaths. Dying is always sad, but with proper professional insight and skill, an individual’s last chapter need not be dominated by suffering and isolation. Dr. Byock demonstrates that growth and completion are possible in the midst of grief and loss. His clinical stories and commentary point to the resilience people find and the importance they discover in their relationships as they face life’s final challenges. This is an important look at the personal, social and political implications of how we care for one another and how we die. The Best Care Possible is a rallying cry to all of us who are concerned about the direction of health care in the United States.
    Donald Schumacher, PsyD
    President and CEO, National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
  • Terry Tempest
    Having traveled this landscape with loved ones, taking care of individuals at the end of their life is both a privilege and a tremendous challenge, both physically and spiritually. We need a map. Ira Byock has created a map of compassionate intelligence for palliative care with grace. Through the power of story and his own intuitive sense of what dignity means to the dying, this is more than a manual, it is a godsend. It is also a call for health care with heart, conscience, and consequence.
    Terry Tempest Williams
  • Elliott Fisher
    Dr. Byock, one of the country’s leading experts in palliative care, shares his wisdom and insights on how to get the best care possible when we are confronted with a potentially life-limiting illness. When my own mother was seriously ill, Ira’s words helped our family make the right choices and make sure she got the care she wanted – and no more –during her last months. His words can help you.
    Elliott S. Fisher – MD, MPH
    Director of Population Health and Policy, The Dartmouth Institute
  • Rochi Joan Halifax
    This is an extraordinary and wise book on how dying people can be cared for. Written by a master clinician, a man of great compassion, Ira Byock has a vision of health care that is brilliant and kind.
    Roshi Joan Halifax
    Abbot, Upaya Zen Center, Sante Fe, author of “Being with Dying”
  • Peer reviews for ira byock by jane isay
    With elegance, compassion, and energy, Ira Byock shows us how to get the best end of life care. He is a great storyteller and a brilliant analyst of health care in America. This is the book to read or give, if you are facing this hard situation. Nobody gets out of this life alive, but Byock shows us how to do it elegantly and well.
    Jane Isay
    Walking on Eggshells