JAMA: Hummingbird Lessons

By Jessica Zitter   It took me a while to notice the hummingbird. She must have flown by my window 5 or 6 times before registering in my peripheral vision. When I finally looked up, I saw her standing on a tiny branch of the Monterey Pine outside our second-floor home-office window, a mere 3 feet from my desk. She [...]

2021-02-08T19:23:11+00:00January 12th, 2021|

The Hollywood Reporter: A Doctor (and Doc-Short Filmmaker) Explains How COVID Created Solutions for Patients and Producers

After 'Caregiver: A Love Story' wrapped in March 2020, Dr. Jessica Zitter — who co-directed the short with Kevin Gordon — the world "shut down" and the duo feared the work would never see the light of day. In March 2020, a documentary short I co-directed with filmmaker Kevin Gordon, Caregiver: A Love Story, wrapped. But all of our plans — [...]

2021-02-06T01:01:07+00:00January 8th, 2021|

Replace the ‘cold steel’ of hospital-bed shackles with the warmth of compassion

Dr. Jessica Zitter Published in STAT “Why do they have that cold steel on my son’s ankle?” The father of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who was newly paralyzed from the waist down, wanted to know why his son was shackled to his hospital bed. Jacob Blake had been shot in the back seven times by police in Kenosha, Wis., [...]

2020-12-04T17:51:04+00:00December 4th, 2020|

The Evolution of the Robot Doctor

Dr. Jessica Zitter Published in The New York Times In March 2019, a robot entered a patient’s room in California and a doctor on its screen told him and his granddaughter that he was dying. This experience, posted to the granddaughter’s Facebook page, was treated as a scandal. Newscasters questioned the humanity of a health care system that would do [...]

2020-12-04T17:52:07+00:00December 1st, 2020|

Coronavirus Experience Shows The Limits of Hospital Care

My friend Jim called me with urgency in his voice; his elderly father, living alone in New York City during the peak of the pandemic, had a multiday fever and was losing weight. He wanted to know, should he take him to the hospital? My typical response in this case — sudden illness in an otherwise healthy person — would [...]

2020-06-10T19:24:08+00:00June 10th, 2020|

Covid or No Covid, It’s Important to Plan

By Jessica Nutik Zitter, M.D. April 16, 2020 My phone rang with a FaceTime video, and my cousin’s face popped into view. We spent the first few minutes expressing our mutual disbelief and shock over Covid-19, acknowledging the insanity and underlying terror of these unprecedented circumstances. We joked about how our anxious mothers, with their endless reminders of dressing warm and [...]

2020-12-04T17:53:01+00:00April 16th, 2020|

The Never-Ending Mistreatment of Black Patients

My patient would never breathe on his own again, but he didn’t know it yet. Years of smoking landed him in our emergency room several times a month. Now the only thing lying between him and the grave was a breathing machine. As his I.C.U. doctor, I had done everything possible to liberate him from the ventilator. Nothing had worked. Whenever [...]

2020-10-13T16:32:57+00:00June 29th, 2019|

Should I Help My Patients Die?

By Dr. Jessica Nutik Zitter Source: The New York Times OAKLAND, Calif. — I WAS leafing through a patient’s chart last year when a colleague tapped me on the shoulder. “I have a patient who is asking about the End of Life Option Act,” he said in a low voice. “Can we even do that here?” I practice [...]

2017-10-23T19:36:41+00:00August 5th, 2017|

What Ted Cruz Doesn’t Get About Dying With Dignity

By Dr. Jessica Nutik Zitter Source: Houston Chronicle My patients need to understand their options and make their own decisions. Elderly and seriously ill patients are at risk due to the misguided thinking of two Republican lawmakers. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas suggests that palliative care shortens the lives of elders. And a bill, HR 410, from Iowa [...]

2017-10-23T21:47:37+00:00March 8th, 2017|