This spring, I met Claire McCormack and Thomas Boström at their house in northern California for a lengthy and difficult conversation about their daughter, Nora, who had died just before her fourth birthday after experiencing four central line infections. Some consider these infections (of which there were nearly 10,000 in 2013) an unavoidable risk, but others think they are preventable with better safety protocols in hospitals.
My research led to a story called "Do No Harm," which we ran today, about how hospitals react to hurting patients. For the story, I traveled to California to meet Claire, visit hospitals, talk with nurses, and observe the type of work that's necessary to make our health-care system safer.
Vox's video producer Johnny Harris was with me the entire time, shooting for the story and also capturing still images. Here's a look behind the scenes of our trip.
I spent a total of five hours interviewing Claire McCormack (above, with the letter) and her husband and Nora's dad, Thomas Boström, at their house in late April. We talked a lot about Nora's case and reviewed correspondence with her hospital. (Johnny Harris/Vox)
Claire showed me a set of collages that a friend had made for Nora's funeral, in November 2013, which she now keeps in the family's living room. (Johnny Harris/Vox)
Left: Johnny shot a video of Claire talking about Nora's death, one of the hardest parts of the interview. Right: We also met Magnus, Claire and Thomas's infant son. (Johnny Harris/Vox)
In this picture I'm at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, where Nora died. Claire and Thomas filed a malpractice lawsuit against Packard, and a spokesperson there declined to comment on our story due to the ongoing litigation. But Johnny and I did visit the hospital to see the space where Nora was treated. (Johnny Harris/Vox)
Sutter Roseville Medical Center is three hours north of Packard, and it went seven years without a central line infection. Deborah Dix (right), a nurse who directs oncology care at the hospital, walked me through the multi-step checklist her team uses to prevent infections when inserting and accessing a central line. (Johnny Harris/Vox)
The thing that struck me most about watching the Roseville nurses insert a central line was their meticulousness: how they had a set number of safety steps in their protocol and followed them to a T. And they seemed to work from muscle memory; their only job is to insert and manage central lines, so they know the steps by heart. (Johnny Harris/Vox)