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  • Karen M. Wyatt

Extreme Measures in the ICU: When helping hurts with Jessica Zitter MD

Learn how ICU and Palliative Care Physician Dr. Jessica Zitter

is changing the culture of critical care medicine in America.

Thursday February 23, 2017

10 am Pacific/1 pm Eastern

My guest Dr. Jessica Zitter, MD, MPH, is committed to changing the current paradigm of end-of-life medical decision-making. In today’s medical culture, the dying are often put on what she calls the “End-of-Life Conveyor Belt.” They are intubated, catheterized, and die attached to machines, frequently without even knowing they are dying.

In her work, Zitter builds bridges between patients and the healthcare team, striving to offer care aligned with each patient’s values and preferences. She has come to see that patients empowered with knowledge can die well, even beautifully.

Dr. Zitter practices the unusual combination of Critical and Palliative Care medicine at Highland Hospital, a public hospital in Oakland, California. She attended Stanford University and Case Western Reserve University Medical School and earned her Masters in Public Health from University of California, Berkeley. Her medical training includes an Internal Medicine residency at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and a fellowship in Pulmonary/Critical Care at the University of California, San Francisco. She is also co-founder of Vital Decisions, a telephone-based counseling service for patients with life-limiting illness.

Dr. Zitter is the author of the new book, Extreme Measures – Finding a Better Path to the End of Life, to be published by Penguin Random House in February 2017. She is a regular contributor to The New York Times on these issues, and her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Huffington Post, Pacific Standard, and JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association. She is featured in the short documentary Extremis, which won top honors at the Tribeca and San Francisco International Film Festivals, has been nominated for an Academy Award, and is now streaming on Netflix.

This interview will cover:

How Dr. Zitter became aware of the need for a culture shift in critical care medicine

How our life-saving technology has become a nightmare for some patients

The changes needed in medical education to help physicians provide better end-of-life care to patients

How patients and their loved ones can prepare for end-of-life decision-making

Advice for choosing the best healthcare proxy

Learn more about Dr. Zitter's work:

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