Haider Warraich, MD, a cardiovascular diseases fellow at Duke, was a guest on NPR's "Fresh Air," where he discussed his book "Modern Death: How Medicine Changed the End of Life."
In the interview, Dr. Warraich tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that death used to be sudden, unexpected and relatively swift — the result of a violent cause, or perhaps an infection. But, he says, modern medicines and medical technologies have lead to a "dramatic extension" of life — and a more prolonged dying processes.
"We've now ... introduced a phase of our life, which can be considered as 'dying,' in which patients have terminal diseases in which they are in and out of the hospital, they are dependent in nursing homes," Warraich says. "That is something that is a very, very recent development in our history as a species."