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December 18, 1996

A Graceful Exit: Life and Death on Your Own Terms

Author Affiliations

Tampa General Hospital Tampa, Fla

JAMA. 1996;276(23):1921. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540230071041

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Death is a punishment to some, to some a gift, and to many a favor.—Seneca (4 BC-65 AD)

In A Graceful Exit, Lofty Basta, MD, a renowned cardiologist, offers a unique perspective on life and death. His book is based both on his personal battle with prostate cancer and on a lifetime of joining patients in their often losing battles against disease. Dr Basta paints a dramatic image of the medical torture we might experience in the hospital at the end of life if we cannot face the reality and inevitability of death. In A Graceful Exit he explores and illuminates many issues involving the end of life. He introduces definitions of death, the impact of advancing medical technology, excessive treatment, landmark legal cases, euthanasia, and living wills. He explores the slippery slope of prolonging life vs prolonging dying.

Basta addresses the controversy over defining death and resolves that