Journalism in the Public Interest


Sheri Fink

Dr. Sheri Fink was a contributing author at ProPublica. Shas reported on health, medicine and science in the U.S. and from every continent except Antarctica. She was a frequent contributor to the public radio newsmagazine PRI’s “The World,” covering the global HIV/AIDS pandemic and international aid in development, conflict and disaster settings. Her articles have appeared in such publications as the New York Times, Discover and Scientific American.

Fink's book, War Hospital: A True Story of Surgery and Survival (Public Affairs, 2003), won the American Medical Writer's Association special book award and was a finalist for the Overseas Press Club and PEN Martha Albrand awards. Fink received her M.D. and Ph.D. from Stanford, and worked with humanitarian aid organizations in more than a half dozen emergencies in the U.S. and overseas. She has taught at Harvard, Tulane and the New School. Most recently Fink was the recipient of a Kaiser Media Fellowship in Health from the Kaiser Family Foundation and she is currently a Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

Her story The Deadly Choices at Memorial was a winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting.


NYU Hospital’s Backup System Undone by Key Part in Flooded Basement

Hospital official explains how move to rooftop generators failed to prevent failure of backup power during Hurricane Sandy

In Hurricane’s Wake, Decisions Not to Evacuate Hospitals Raise Questions

Lessons learned in previous disasters help avert immediate catastrophe, yet, as a reporter looks on, health officials struggle to deal with glitches and unforeseen dangers.

Class-Action Suit Filed After Katrina Hospital Deaths Settled for $25 Million

The agreement ends the action against Tenet Healthcare brought by families of people who said Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans was ill-prepared for a hurricane.

U.S. Nuclear-Disaster Preparedness Hobbled by Uncertain Chain of Command

Emergency plans call for local officials to take charge first in a radiological disaster. How and when the federal government would step in isn't so clear.

U.S. Health Care System Unprepared for Major Nuclear Emergency

Few hospitals drill for radiological emergencies, and agencies aren't prepared to handle mass evacuations. Many states don't even have a basic plan for communicating with the public after a catastrophic radiological release.

Lawsuit Against New Orleans Hospital Settles Shortly After Trial Begins

A case brought on behalf of people trapped in Memorial Hospital ends before any testimony is heard.

Trial to Open in Lawsuit Connected to Hospital Deaths After Katrina

A class-action lawsuit involving a hospital where an unusually high number of patients died after Hurricane Katrina is expected to raise issues of responsibility for disaster preparedness.

Life and Death Choices as South Africans Ration Dialysis Care

In South Africa, life-saving dialysis treatments are rationed based not only on a patient's medical condition but social factors such as living conditions and the patient's support network.

Haiti Loses Its U.S. Lifeboat

The Navy hospital ship Comfort has left the Port-au-Prince harbor, but some say that earthquake victims still need its help.

New Orleans Coroner Rules Post-Katrina Death ‘Unclassified’

A New Orleans coroner says he can't determine what killed a 79-year-old woman who died at Memorial Medical Center after Hurricane Katrina. Though the patient had been given lots of morphine, "she had a lot of physiologic reasons to die," the coroner said. The ruling makes it highly unlikely that any charges will be brought in the case.

Haitians Under U.S. Treatment Are Often Separated From Families

A bureaucratic tangle leaves some Haitians struggling to find information about quake victims taken away for medical care.

The New Katrina Flood: Hospital Liability

Three years before Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, a senior executive at Pendleton Memorial Methodist Hospital assessed its vulnerability to the sort of flooding that had been long feared there. His conclusion is now evidence in a lawsuit against Methodist that could have significant implications for hospitals nationwide.

Louisiana Doctors Drafting Guidelines on Access to Critical Care During a Disaster

Health professionals and ethicists consider which patients won't get lifesaving care during an epidemic or other medical crisis.

Rationing Medical Care: Health Officials Struggle With Setting Standards

With the threat of a flu pandemic, doctors are still struggling with a serious issue: Which patients should be given access to lifesaving treatments if more people need it than the system can handle?

Advisory Subcommittee to CDC Approves Ethics Guidance for Rationing Ventilators

Preparing for a Pandemic, State Health Departments Struggle With Rationing Decisions

Health officials across the country are working on guidelines to address a worst-case scenario: too many severely ill people, not enough resources to treat them all.

In Flu Pandemic, Florida’s Hospitals May Exclude Certain Patients

Health officials in Florida are working on guidelines for rationing scarce medical care in an emergency.

Key Panel Presses for Clearer Guidance on Who Gets Scarce Resources in Major Medical Disasters

A report from a committee of doctors, lawyers and public health professionals declares an "urgent and clear need" for consistent standards of care during medical crises.

Flu Nightmare: In Severe Pandemic, Officials Ponder Disconnecting Ventilators From Some Patients

Guidelines are being drafted for handling a flu outbreak that leaves too many people in need of too few ventilators.

District Attorney in Louisiana Evaluates Statements on Patient Deaths

ProPublica's report on the chaos after Hurricane Katrina prompts questions from a prosecutor, but not a formal investigation.