Samuel Harrington, MD, an honors graduate of Harvard College and the University of Wisconsin Medical School, concentrated his clinical practice at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, DC. There he served as a medical staff leader, a trustee, and as Sibley's representative to the Johns Hopkins Quality and Safety Board Committee. This work and his service on the board of trustees of a nonprofit hospice brought Dr. Harrington into the discussion of end-of-life medical care.
Most people say they would like to die quietly at home. But overly aggressive medical advice, coupled with an unrealistic sense of invincibility or overconfidence in our health-care system, results in the majority of elderly patients misguidedly dying in institutions. Many undergo painful procedures instead of having the better and more peaceful death they deserve.
Dr. Harrington's new book "At Peace: Choosing a Good Death After a Long Life" outlines specific active and passive steps that older patients and their health-care proxies can take to ensure loved ones live their last days comfortably at home and/or in hospice when further aggressive care is inappropriate.