On PBS tonight, the FRONTLINE program features end-of-life issues, death and dying in America with Being Mortal, the same title as the best-selling book by surgeon Dr. Atul Gawande.
Being Mortal looks at the relationships doctors have with patients in the end stages of their lives. It’s an area where the U.S. health care system is falling short, according to Gawande.
The story of Brittany Maynard — a 29-year-old woman diagnosed with terminal brain cancer who chose to end her life on Nov. 1 rather than allow the disease to progress — has stirred a national conversation about death and dying in America.
Maynard’s story “is a sign that our health care system has failed her, because she cannot trust that medical personnel are going to recognize her priority of not suffering, and be willing to offer sufficient care and therapy,” Gawande says.
Why is it so hard for many U.S. doctors to talk about aging and dying — what Gawande calls “the two unfixables”? And how can the medical profession better help patients navigate the final chapters of their lives with confidence, direction and purpose?
Tune in to your local PBS station tonight at 9:00 p.m. to find out (check your local listings for any time variation).