• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

Dying is a social as well as physiological phenomenon. Each society characterizes and, consequently, treats death and dying in its own individual ways—ways that differ markedly. These particular patterns of death and dying engender modal cultural responses, and such institutionalized behavior has familiar, economical, educational, religious, and political implications. The Handbook of Death and Dying takes stock of the vast literature in the field.

Death Attributed to Medical Error
Death attributed to medical error

Humans inherently make mistakes. Sometimes these mistakes are foolish; most of the time, mistakes teach us lessons. In most instances, the world in general does not learn of individual humans' mistakes. In the worst cases, however, mistakes lead to bodily harm or death, events that are frequently reported in the news media. Important examples include the 1984 chemical spill in Bhopal, India; the nuclear mishap at Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania, in 1979; and the recent case of the installation of defective tires on Ford Explorers. Human errors also occur in the medical profession, and these errors can be costly in terms of loss of life and other consequences of human tragedy. In this chapter, our chief ...

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