Earlier this year, I wrote about how my mom’s death changed my perspective about end-of-life care. After watching her final days, I no longer felt so certain that society should pressure families to make quick decisions about withdrawing life-sustaining treatment. I wrote:
We knew her end-of-life wishes: She had told my dad that she didn’t want to be artificially kept alive if she had no real chance of a meaningful recovery. But what was a real chance? What was a meaningful recovery? How did we know if the doctors and nurses were right? In all my reporting, I’d never realized how little the costs to the broader health-care system matter to the family of a patient. When that patient was my mother, what mattered was that we had to live with whatever decision we made. And we wouldn’t get a chance to make it twice.
It was one of a number of experiences with the health care system that shaped my thinking as a reporter. Every time I write a story, I try to think about it from the lens of patients who deal with the system each day. I try to explain it and demystify it for them, to the best of my ability.
Lately, I’ve been wondering about whether other journalists have been affected by their own brushes with the medical system. I asked four of them to weigh in—Peter Frost of the Chicago Tribune, Gary Schwitzer of HealthNewsReview.org, Lisa Chedekel of Connecticut Health Investigative Team and Katy Butler, author of the book Knocking on Heaven’s Door. Here’s what they told me:
Sobering stuff from reporters who cover the medical field.