Plot line: In FRONTLINE’s Being Mortal, Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, uses patient stories to illustrate modern medicine’s greatest paradox: medical advances may have diversified our options for extending life, but they have made accepting death harder than ever before. Doctors are expected to save lives, and patients are expected to fight death. So how does this dynamic change as lives grow longer, and chronic diseases become more prevalent? In life, Dr. Gawande points out, there are two big “unfixables”—aging and death—and quantity of life does not necessarily equate to quality.
This Frontline documentary, based on the book with the same title, is an unflinching look at death and how both patients and doctors are often unable to have the tough conversations needed at end of life. I found it both insightful and educational - we often think that doctors know what is best for us, but there are tradeoffs that only we can make for ourselves.
You can see the Frontline episode here. If you have yet to see it, this is a show worth watching.