Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dallas Morning News Gets Palliative Care

While this may be old news to some, I wanted to (re-)encourage you to visit the excellent 5-part piece on palliative care by the Dallas Morning News. Besides being a very good piece of narrative driven medical journalism, the articles, videos, and photos serve as an excellent example of how palliative care collaborating with local media establishes a broad public understanding. Imagine if a 5-day series like this was repeated in local media outlets (the type of media does not necessarily matter: TV, Radio, Newspaper) across the country and even the world.

So a good New Year's Resolution for your palliative care or hospice team might be to engage local reporters to do a similar story to the Dallas Morning News. The Sacramento Bee won a Pulitzer Prize for a photojournalism story covering pediatric hospice in 2007. A classic case of Win-Win-Win. Rise in public awareness about palliative care, promotion of local palliative care efforts, recognition for excellence in local reporting for the media. The Hospice Foundation of America blog tends to highlight local coverage of hospice & palliative care more than Pallimed, so follow them for a taste of what other news organizations are doing.

If you do go to the Dallas Morning News website and watch one of the four (under-8 min) videos, the several articles, please click on the 'recommend' at the top of each page, and maybe put a comment in there. In-depth coverage of palliative care to those who may not even need it yet is rare so honoring it with a click of your mouse or a few kind words or insights is the least our field could do to encourage more of this reporting. (One slightly annoying issue is that if you click on more then 3 links or so, you have to register to get access. I did...not too big a hassle.)

The stories were written after having the reporter and a photographer/video journalist follow the Baylor Palliative Care Team for 3 weeks around the clock along with some other extensive periods over several months. A nice addition is the reflective essay by the photographer about being so close to these patients and families during intensely personal moments.

A great timeline of technology and stories around life-prolonging therapies shared a few facts I had not known about my area of experitse:

  • Osler did a study on the symptom control of dying patients (hint: not referenced in Pubmed since it was in the early 1900's!)
  • Old age stopped being recorded as a method of dying in 1913 (yet still persists in our culture as how ancestors died.)
  • Early CPR studies claimed a 75% success rate (yet still perisits in our culture as how well CPR still performs)
There are some other gems I will leave for you to discover.

Another interesting part of the piece is a 4-person round table discussion about the current and future of palliative care. There are many interesting pieces to dissect in that section which I hope to explore in some detail in the new year.

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