Today SevenPonds is speaking with Dr. Jessica Nutik-Zitter, M.D. Dr. Zitter is a board certified specialist in both critical care and hospice and palliative medicine and an attending physician in the intensive care unit at Highland Hospital in Oakland, California. She was featured in the award-winning Netflix documentary “Extremis” and is the author of the recently released book “Extreme Measures: Finding a Better Path to the End of Life.”

Kathleen: Thanks so much for speaking with me today, Dr. Zitter. I’m very excited to hear about your work.

Dr. Nutik-Zitter: My pleasure, Kathleen.

Kathleen: Can you start out by telling me a little bit about your dual role at Highland Hospital?

Dr. Zitter: Certainly. I work both as an attending physician in the Intensive Care Unit and as an attending physician on the palliative care team. When I am attending the ICU, I direct the care of all of the patients in the ICU. At other times, I function primarily as a palliative care consultant. For instance, I may be asked to help the ICU team manage a patient’s pain, or address goals of care with a patient who is not doing well despite aggressive efforts to save his or her life.

Kathleen: Some people might see critical care and palliative care as somewhat contradictory specialties. How would you respond to this?

Dr. Zitter: My goal is to help people see that these are not at all disparate roles but part of the continuum of patient-centered care. When a patient first presents in the Emergency Room or Intensive Care Unit, it’s appropriate, in most cases, to make every effort to stabilize them in the hopes of restoring them to their former state of health and quality of life. But for many patients, continuing aggressive intervention when it doesn’t appear to be helping and may actually be harming them is not in their best interests. At that point, it’s equally as appropriate to take a different approach. (…) Read Full Publication Here

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