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David Casarett, M.D.
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David Casarett MD MA completed his medical training at Case Western Reserve University. His additional training included a Master’s degree in medical anthropology and fellowships in ethics at the University of Chicago and in Palliative Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He is an Associate Professor in the Division of Geriatrics at the University of Pennsylvania, and medical director for research and quality for the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

His research to understand and improve end-of-life care has been supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and many foundations. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor given by the US government to researchers in the early phases of their careers. Dr. Casarett is also the author of Last Acts: Discovering Possibility and Opportunity at the End of Life, which was published by Simon & Schuster in January, 2010.

Entries by David Casarett, M.D.

An Open Letter to DEA Chief Chuck Rosenberg: Don't Resign (Yet)

(41) Comments | Posted November 23, 2015 | 1:11 PM

Dear Mr. Rosenberg:

When I heard you say recently that you thought medical marijuana was a "joke," I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. But I knew then what I think you're beginning to figure out now, which is that saying something like that gets you in a whole...

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Julianna Snow: Can a 5-Year-Old Choose Heaven?

(0) Comments | Posted October 29, 2015 | 4:48 PM

It seems like 5-year-old Julianna Snow has made a decision that's making a lot of people very upset. She doesn't want any more treatment for a chronic degenerative neuromuscular disease called Charcot Marie Tooth Disease. So she's decided that if she becomes sicker, and if she develops a pulmonary infection,...

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California's Medical Marijuana Mistake

(84) Comments | Posted October 14, 2015 | 10:29 AM

Let's face it, there have been lots of mistakes in the medical marijuana industry over the past 20 years. And I mean lots of mistakes, beginning way back in 1996 when California passed Proposition 215.

That was the first attempt of a state to legalize medical marijuana, and...

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How to Choose a Hospice

(5) Comments | Posted June 23, 2014 | 5:31 PM

Ben Hallman's June 19 HuffPost blog paints a stark and scary picture of today's hospice industry. Hospice, he warns us, is big business. And it seems that business is booming. But his focus on for-profit hospices is not very helpful to patients and families who need hospice.

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Jahi McMath and the Dangerous Language of Hope

(10) Comments | Posted January 10, 2014 | 3:17 PM

The strange, sad case of Jahi McMath, the 13-year-old California girl who was declared brain-dead over her family's objections, has reached what is likely to be its final chapter. Transferred into her mother's custody and placed in an unnamed extended care facility, experts doubt that this once-vibrant teenager will continue...

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Caring Daughter or Murder Suspect?

(7) Comments | Posted August 1, 2013 | 6:43 PM

If you're a friend or family member of a hospice patient, you could be facing a murder charge. That's the not-so-subtle message that Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane is sending to dying patients and their families, described in the July 31 online edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer. So...

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Overtreatment in Cancer: Common Sense Medicine

(4) Comments | Posted April 9, 2012 | 3:14 PM

Treatment for cancer has gotten out of hand. For almost every type of cancer, there are now dozens of potential treatments, in what are often hundreds of combinations. And, what is infinitely worse, these treatments can be lined up one after the other in a seamless row so that when...

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Grief Beyond Belief

(1) Comments | Posted February 22, 2012 | 5:27 PM

There are few experiences that are as lonely and isolating as facing the death of a loved one. That sense of loss makes the world around us seem different -- strange and foreign in ways that are difficult to see and impossible to explain to others. The very experience of...

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David Oliver: A Different Kind of Courage

(0) Comments | Posted February 8, 2012 | 1:44 PM

I often hear my patients and their families talk about courage. They say that someone faced his illness courageously, for instance. Or that he wouldn't give up. Or that he's a fighter.

When they talk about courage, though, they're usually talking about a very specific kind of courage that has...

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Assisted Suicide: Jack Kevorkian's Legacy and Where We Stand Today

(23) Comments | Posted April 28, 2010 | 9:17 AM

Jack Kevorkian has become a polarizing figure among health care providers and the public. He's a litmus test, in a sense, of our opinions about health care in general, and physicians in particular. When the discussion turns to Jack Kevorkian, it's difficult not to take sides.

And Barry Levinson's You...

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The Massey Mine Disaster: Lessons for the Living

(1) Comments | Posted April 9, 2010 | 8:42 AM

There are many lessons that we should learn from the recent tragedy at the Massey mine in Montcoal, West Virginia. One such lesson is that despite recent accidents, mining remains extremely dangerous for those who risk their lives underground to make a living. Another is that regulations and sanctions seem...

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5 Years After Terri Schiavo: What Have We Learned?

(104) Comments | Posted March 31, 2010 | 3:54 PM

Wednesday, March 31, marks the fifth anniversary of Terri Schiavo's death. Five years ago, as a protracted legal battle riveted the nation's attention, lawyers, medical experts, judges, and legislators all became involved. Private family dramas unfolded behind closed doors, while a very public drama played out in the media and...

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Cancer News Offers Readers Hope and Hype, But No Help

(48) Comments | Posted March 16, 2010 | 8:52 AM

Cancer is a serious, life-threatening illness that kills more than half a million people every year in the U.S. alone. But you'd never know that if you get most of your information from newspapers and magazines. This is the surprising result of a study that was published this week in...

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