end-of-life care

Early on January 27, 2018, The Most Interesting Man in the World passed away at the age of 91.

No, I'm not speaking of Jonathan Goldsmith, the guy who just pretended to be The Most Interesting Man in the World. I'm speaking of the real deal, my grandfather, Dimitri Berezow -- a man who survived Stalin and Hitler, cheated death on multiple occasions, and went on to live the American dream.

His was an impossibly unique story – one that seems too extraordinary to be true (and yet is) -- capped with a cautionary tale about modern healthcare.

Living Free in Stalin's Russia

For many people, including my Ukrainian grandmother, life in the Soviet Union was hell. To break...

Unlike our ancestors, who encountered it often, members of our modern society seem strangely detached from death. Many people have never even seen a dead body. When I was still an undergraduate in 2002, I witnessed four autopsies being performed at the New York City medical examiner's office. It was a life-changing experience. Watching as a doctor peels a corpse's face off its skull and systematically extracts organs (before stuffing them into a bag and shoving it in the chest cavity) has a way of bringing death to life, so to speak.

While many people may acknowledge death intellectually or philosophically, it still feels like a strange, otherworldly phenomenon that happens primarily to other people. The devastating biological process that is death -- and the...

chemotherapyA recent report in JAMA by a large study group shows mixed results when it comes to end-of-life care in the United States.

The National End of Life Care Intelligence Network based in London, England, assessed trends in dealing with terminal cancer in the last year of life in seven wealthy nations: Canada, the United Kingdom, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and the U.S.

Parameters studied included time spent in hospital, ICU admissions, palliative care and expenditures. Surprisingly, America came out better than we would have expected in several of these categories but worse...