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Contest Entries

Quality of Death - End of Life Care: Inside Out

Entrants: Rachel Gotbaum, Anna Bensted and George Hicks

Affiliation: WBUR

Radio

Year: 2009

Place: First Place

Provide a brief synopsis of the story or stories, including any significant findings.

In the public radio documentary "Quality of Death-End of Life Care: Inside Out," reporter Rachel Gotbaum explores a health care system in which more care is considered better care. But does a booming aging population in the US combined with an endless array of medical interventions place too much stress on our health care budget and on our sickest patients? When asked, most Americans say they want to die at home surrounded by family, yet the majority of us die in hospitals and other institutions, often in pain and alone. Medical care at the end of life accounts for one third of all Medicare spending, yet such spending and extensive treatment can easily decrease a patient's quality of life, and thus, their quality of death. Gotbaum reports on why so many medical interventions occur right up to the last minutes of life. She explores how patients and their families grapple with end of life care decisions and how doctors are trained to focus on extending survival rather than helping their patients plan for the remainder of their lives.

Judges' comments: "Quality of Death" is fascinating, with compelling sound and characters. I found myself sitting in my parked car not wanting to turn it off. I think this topic is often overlooked, and perhaps this piece will encourage families to talk about end-of-life issues before the critical moments when emotions and stress take over... and share those conversations with their physicians. More care is NOT always better care and this piece offered an insightful look into costs, ethics and real-life accounts that are bound to make listeners ponder some serious questions. The characters and the comprehensiveness of the story won me over.

See Quality of Death - End of Life Care: Inside Out

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