Demystifying the 'D' Word: Patients, Providers, and Caregivers

Death is an inevitable reality that each human being is aware of from the moment of birth, at a certain level of consciousness. Most of us though being completely certain of this reality, try our level best to avoid it, as much as we can throughout our lives. This reality becomes especially unavoidable when we are diagnosed with a terminal condition. And it becomes impossible to avoid the most important reality of our lives.

Unfortunately, the modern push towards commercialization of the medical profession and other healing arts, has increased the push for the healers of the human body and soul, to become purely managers of disease processes only. This commercialization, coupled with significant advances in medical sciences, on the one hand has increased the average human lifespan. Leading to some of us even dreaming of acquiring immortality, as a potential goal. But on the other hand, this has created unrealistic expectations of the medical profession. Pushing medical professionals farther away from preparing individuals under their care for the inevitable outcome.

This happens out of fear on the part of medical professionals of being deemed a failure, if they cannot cure and treat every ailment known to mankind. Out of the concern that they could be deprived of a potentially curable therapy, on the part of patients. And out of concern of being seen as giving up too early on their loved ones, on the part of family members.

Thus making “Death”, almost a taboo word, that is seldom taught, discussed, or even pondered over, in most modern medical institutes of the world. On one hand, this carries a huge economic cost, with a significant amount of the healthcare dollars being spent on artificially extending life, with absolutely no quality and/or dignity. Additionally, this also results in patients being deprived of the right to end their lives, with the grace that this decision deserves.

Our objective in the talk will be to open up a discussion, on how to demystify the “D” word, and make it totally acceptable to have an open dialogue about death, for all. Including medical professionals, families, and most of all patients.

Learning Objectives

  • Provide an overview of the commercialization of the medical profession.

  • Examine how advances in the medical sciences both positively and negatively impact the patient trajectory of care.

  • Explore how "fear" plays a role in end-of-life care from a patient, provider, and caregiver perspective.

  • Identify the reasons behind the perception of "death" as a taboo word in modern medicine and recommendations to effect change.

Additional Information

Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC)
State Relevance: 
Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 1.50 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit
  • 1.50 ANCC
  • 1.50 APA
Course opens: 
Course expires: 
Nonmember cost:
Member cost:

About the Presenter:

Maqbool A. Halepota, MD, FACP, CPE is a board-certified Medical Oncologist and Hematologist, currently practicing in Scottsdale, AZ, with Palo Verde Cancer Specialists (PVCS), one of the largest practices in the Metro Phoenix area.

Dr. Halepota received his medical degree from Sindh Medical College (SMC), Karachi, Pakistan. He completed his Internship, and was later appointed as a Resident Medical Officer, at Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Center (JPMC), the premier medical institute in Pakistan. As a Medical Officer at JPMC, he worked in the Departments of Emergency Medicine, and Physical Medicine and Rehab (PM&R). As a Medical Officer in the Department of PM&R, he supervised the only artificial limb fitting institute serving Pakistan and some of the bordering countries.

He was later selected to teach Human Anatomy, as a Lecturer, in his Alma Mater, SMC. Before moving to the United States (US).

In the US he completed his Residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Kentucky in 1996. He then practiced Internal Medicine in Berea, Kentucky, for 4 years, serving an indigent population in one of the most underserved counties in the country. In recognition of his service the Governor of Kentucky commissioned him into “The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels” in 1999.

He then went on to complete a Fellowship in Hematology and Oncology at the University of Kentucky. After which he moved to Phoenix to join Palo Verde Cancer Specialists (PVCS).

He is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Oncology. He was granted Fellowship in the American College of Physicians in 2004. He acquired Certification as a Physician Executive in 2017.

He is one of the Managing Partners of PVCS, and serves as the Medical Director of Palo Verde Cancer Center, Scottsdale (PVCC-S). He is a member of the Board of Directors of Valley Integrated Alliance of Specialists, Arizona (VIAS-AZ), and GMS Biotech. He serves as the Medical Oncology Specialty Representative, on the Medicare Carrier Advisory Committee (CAC), for the state of Arizona.

In the past he has served as a Member, Board of Directors, of Community Oncology Alliance (COA). His other professional roles in the past have included chairing multiple committees, including Department of Medicine at Paradise Valley Hospital, Lung and Head/Neck Cancer, and Data Safety, at Virginia Piper Cancer Center (VPCC), Pharmacy and Therapeutics (P&T) at Scottsdale Healthcare. He had also served as a Member of the Medical Executive Committee (MEC) at both of the above hospital systems.

He is a published Author, his scientific papers, and articles have been published in peer reviewed Medical Journals, and online magazines.

He has been recognized among the “Top Oncologist”, on multiple occasions, by independent ranking organizations, both locally and nationally.

As an entrepreneur he has successfully incorporated multiple companies, including Hamburg Real Estate Associates (HREA).

His activities outside of medicine include traveling, reading, philately, gardening, and swimming.


About the Moderator:

Melanie Wright graduated with her Bachelor of Art in non-confessional Religious Studies, with a leading focus on cross-cultural perspectives on death and religious impacts on human rights and bioethics. Following this, she journeyed to complete her Master of Social Work, where she developed the inaugural internship program between Arizona State University and the Mayo Clinic. During a two year graduate rotation with the Mayo Clinic, Melanie conducted a research study entitled, "Physicians’ Perspectives on Socio-Political Barriers to Effective Palliative Care in a Hospital Setting”, which she was then invited to present at the 2005 "Joint National Conference of the American Society on Aging and the National Council on Aging". This research contributed to the formation of an in-house hospital Palliative Care Team at the Mayo Clinic; the first program of its kind on a national scale. As a result, Melanie was presented with the distinction of "Honorary Member of the Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences Alumni Association." Currently, she is the acting President for the Parkinson Network of Arizona, which funds all wellness/outreach programs for the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute. She is an active member of the National Association of Social Workers, National Council on Aging, American Association of Integrated Healthcare Delivery Systems, Alliance for Professional Healthcare Advocates, and serves on the Advisory Council for the Arizona Interfaith Movement. Melanie obtained her Fellowship in Thanatology, with a focus on therapeutic interventions for the terminally ill and is actively conducting research on patient-centered care when confronted with a life limiting diagnosis. She is the acting Chair of the Professional Development Committee for the Association on Death Education & Counseling (ADEC).

This webinar is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA), the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB), the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) for 1.5 CE hours.

Accreditation Statement

In support of improving patient care, this activity has been planned and implemented by Amedco LLC and The Association for Death Education and Counseling. Amedco LLC is jointly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), to provide continuing education for the healthcare team.

Amedco LLC designates this live and enduring material for a maximum of 1.50 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Amedco LLC designates this activity for a maximum of 1.50 ANCC contact hours.


Amedco LLC designates this activity for a maximum of 1.50 psychologist contact hours.

Social Workers

As a Jointly Accredited Organization, Amedco is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved under this program. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. Amedco maintains responsibility for this course. Social workers completing this course receive 1.50 GENERAL continuing education credits. 

Available Credit

  • 1.50 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit
  • 1.50 ANCC
  • 1.50 APA


Nonmember cost:
Member cost:
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This course is offered through the Association for Death Education and Counseling. 

To take this course you will be redirected to the Association for Death Education and Counseling's website. You must login or create an account with the Association for Death Education and Counseling in order to complete this activity. 

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Terminally Ill PatientsEnd-of-life Care