Conversations About Ethics

Giving and Getting “The Best Care Possible” Through the End of Life

Dr. Ira Byock

Everybody wants “the best care possible” for their loved ones and themselves through the very end of life. Of course, this phrase means different things to different people. In addition to being consistent with professional standards, we strive to provide care that reflects the personal preferences of the seriously ill or injured people and their families. This requires access to a broad array of services and coordination between providers, patients and their loved ones. This presentation will explore the elements that must be in place – within health systems and within communities – and the key stakeholders who must regularly communicate and interact if we are to reliably provide “the best care possible.”

Saying “The Four Things That Matter Most”

  • “Please forgive me”
  • “I forgive you”
  • “Thank you”
  • “I love you”

These eleven words carry core wisdom for living. For years I have taught these simple, yet profound statements to patients who were forced to confront life’s end and learned their value from patients and families. But “the four things” apply at any time. They offer a powerful way for mending even our most troubled relationships and for nurturing our cherished connections to the people we love. Through stories and lecture we will explore the transformative potential of saying the four things.

Dr. Ira Byock has been involved in hospice and palliative care since 1978. He is a Past President of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. He has authored numerous articles on the ethics and practice of hospice, palliative and end-of-life care. He has published two books- Dying Well, and The Four Things That Matter Most. He has presented for over ten years as a guest speaker to organizations worldwide.

Dr. Byock has been the recipient of the National Hospice Organization’s Person of the Year, the National Coalition of Cancer Survivorship’s Natalie Davis Spingarn Writers Award, the American College of CHEST Physicians Roger Bone Memorial Lecture Award and the Outstanding Colleague Award of the National Association of Catholic Chaplains. He has been a featured guest on numerous national television and radio programs, including NPR: All Things Considered and Fresh Air, ABC Nightline, CBS 60 Minutes andPBS The News Hour.

Video of the March 25 presentation is available here.

Beginning of LifeMiddle of LifeEnd of Life


Resource List

This resource list brings together websites, videos, audio recordings, books, and articles to supplement the workshop and lecture.

By Our Speaker : Unfortunately this section has no resources.

Dipping Your Toe (Introductory Information) : Unfortunately this section has no resources.

Wading Waist High (Intermediate Resources) : Unfortunately this section has no resources.

Taking a Deep Dive (Advanced Materials) : Unfortunately this section has no resources.

Access to Materials

Freely available Online
Available through the San Antonio Public Library
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Available through the Briscoe Library at the UTHSCSA Faculty
Faculty, students, and staff may access these materials remotely using their Health Science Center log-in. Non-affiliated individuals and members of the general public may access these materials in-person by visiting the library and registering for guest access. Off-site access is not available for non-affiliated individuals and members of the general public due to licensing restrictions.