Dr Byock's Bio

Articles, Editorials and Interviews

Quality of Life Assessment Tool



Ira Byock, MD
Biographical Information

Ira Byock, MD is a leading palliative care physician, author, and public advocate for improving care through the end of life.

He serves as Chief Medical Officer for the Institute for Human Caring of Providence Health and Services, based in Torrance, CA. He advances efforts to measure, monitor and improve person-centered care system- Professor of Medicine and Community & Family Medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. He served as Director of Palliative Medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire from 2003 through July 2013.

 Dr. Byock has written widely on the ethics and practice of palliative care and health care systems change. He is a consistent advocate for the voice and rights of patients and their families.

The Best Care Possible

Making the Best of What Is Often the Very Worst Time of Our Lives
The Atlantic, March 7, 2012
Though death is the most inevitable fact of life, our social systems are broken when it comes to caring for people with advanced illnesses.
Americans are scared to death of dying. And with good reason. While rarely easy under any circumstances, we make dying a lot harder than it has to be.
A large majority of Americans still die in hospitals or nursing homes. Many suffer poorly controlled pain or other physical miseries and endure their final days feeling undignified and a burden to others.
more ...    
The Best Care Possible

Ira Byock, MD
Practicing Physician, Professor, Author, Advocate

NEW....In The Media


Ira Byock, M.D., Responds to Compassion & Choices

October 24, 2014    As a physician who takes care of seriously ill people, I am distressed by the assertion that I have somehow attacked Brittany Maynard by disagreeing with Compassion & Choices. This is simply not true.

As father of two daughters in their thirties, I am sincerely touched by Brittany Maynard's situation and my heart goes out to her at this most difficult time in her life.

I fully recognize Brittany Maynard's autonomy and, as I have said, do not believe she is being coerced. She has a right to speak out on this controversial issue of social policy. I hope that she and others can respect my right to disagree on that issue.

It is time to change the conversation. We should be talking about the public health crisis that is well documented in the Institute of Medicine's recent report Dying in America, which shines a light on the excessive medical treatments and inattention to sick people's pain and personal suffering that is persistent in the U.S. health system today, as well as the scant social support that many seriously ill people and their families experience. Giving doctors the authority to write lethal prescriptions does not fix any of the deep-seated deficiencies of medical education, perverse financial incentives, and woefully inadequate nursing home staffing that contribute to suffering for many thousands of people.

Physician-assisted suicide fixes none of these. Instead, it is a sad capitulation to our failures as a health care system and society.

I don't expect Compassion & Choices to be swayed by my statements. We live in a diverse American society that was built on valuing and respecting a broad spectrum of preferences and beliefs.

However, death awaits us all, so while we continue to vigorously disagree over the issue of physician-assisted suicide, let's do so in a civil way.

My goal is to work together to fix how we care for seriously ill people and commit to giving each and every person the best care possible through the end of life.

Ira Byock, M.D., is chief medical officer of the Institute for Human Caring at Providence Health & Services and professor of medicine and community & family medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. He is the author of seminal books on palliative care and end-of-life decisions, including Dying Well, The Four Things That Matter Most and The Best Care Possible.

Print Version

The Diane Rehm Show
New Efforts To Expand Options For Terminally Ill Patients
Ira Byock, MD
The Diane Rehm Show, Oct 23, 2014

CBS 60 Minutes
Ending Life
Ira Byock, MD
CBS 60 Minutes, Oct 19, 2014

PBS The NewsHour
Should terminally ill patients be able to choose when they die
Ira Byock, MD
PBS The NewsHour, Oct 14, 2014

The New York Times
Room for Debate: Expanding the Right to Die - It Violates Medical Principles and Is Dangerous

Ira Byock, MD
New York Times Online Edition, Oct 6, 2014

CBS 60 Minutes
The Cost of Dying: End of Life Care
Ira Byock, MD
CBS 60 Minutes, Nov 22, 2009

What You Will Find At This Site ...

Articles, Editorials and Interviews
A collection of Dr. Byock's Professional Publications, Op-Ed Articles, and Selected Interviews

Landmarks and Developmental Tasks
A  working set of Developmental Landmarks and Taskwork for the End of Life  presented in a practical framework.

'Dying Well' Discussion Guide
Developed specifically for use by book clubs and classes, this guide serves as a jumping off point for  valuable and meaningful discussion on the subject of  “Dying Well” and what that means for each individual.

NEW 10th Anniversary Edition

The Four Things That Matter Most

June 2014


Other Books by Ira Byock
... for the Public, Clinicians and Academics
Other Books by Ira Byock
... primarily for Clinicians and Academics

Dying Well: The Prospect of Growth at the End-of-Life
Putnam/Riverhead, 1997

The Four Things That Matter Most - 10th Anniversary Edition
Simon & Schuster/Atria, 2014






A Few Months to Live: Different Paths to Life's End     
Co-authored with Jana Staton and Roger Shuy, Georgetown University Press, 2001

Palliative and End-of-Life Pearls 
Co-authored with John E. Heffner, MD 
Hanley and Belfus, Inc., 2002

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 This website was last  updated Oct 23, 2014.
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