Dr. Samuel Harrington, MD, is the author of At Peace: Choosing a Good Death After a Long Life. In this important book, which James Fallows of The Atlantic calls “deeply humane,” he argues the case for taking a clear-eyed yet compassionate view towards the end of life. Most people say they would like to die quietly at home. But overly aggressive medical advice, coupled with an unrealistic sense of invincibility, results in the majority of elderly patients misguidedly dying in institutions while undergoing painful procedures, instead of having a better and more peaceful death they desired.
Dr. Harrington is a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Wisconsin Medical School. Professionally, he concentrated his practice at Sibley Memorial Hospital also served on the board of a nonprofit hospice in Washington, D.C. He also listened to his parents when they were facing end of life decisions and helped them enter this period of their lives peacefully, while being able to live at home. It was these two experiences together that prompted his desire to write this book. AT PEACE outlines specific active and passive steps that older patients and their health care proxies can take to insure loved ones pass their last days comfortably at home and/or in hospice, when further aggressive care is inappropriate.