Journalism in the Public Interest

Health Care

Have You Had To Make End-of-Life Care Decisions?

End-of-life care can be expensive and often futile. But that doesn’t make families’ bedside decisions any easier.

ProPublica’s veteran health-care reporter Charles Ornstein recently wrestled with this as he helped make end-of-life care decisions for his mother. Her prognosis was poor. She didn’t want to be kept alive artificially with no real chance for a meaningful recovery. And though he knew that extra tests came with added costs to the broader health-care system, it didn’t matter.

“In my [15 years of] reporting, I'd never realized how little the costs to the broader health-care system matter to the family of a patient,” he wrote in an op-ed published today with the Washington Post. “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.”

You can read Ornstein's full essay here.

Have you had to manage end-of-life care decisions for a loved one? We'd like to hear from you. How did your loved one's wishes affect your decisions, if at all? Did you consider cost? Do you wish you’d done anything differently? What was the decision-making process like for you and your family? 


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