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|

First, Sex Ed. Then Death Ed.

By Dr. Jessica Nutik Zitter Souce: The New York Times FIVE years ago, I taught sex education to my daughter Tessa’s class. Last week, I taught death education to my daughter Sasha’s class. In both cases, I didn’t really want to delegate the task. I wanted my daughters and the other children in the class to know about [...]

2020-05-27T19:58:33+00:00February 18th, 2017|

Miracles Don’t Come Cheap

By Dr. Jessica Nutik Zitters Source: The New York Times As I rushed through the hospital lobby on my way to the intensive care unit, I saw the palliative care team speaking to a young woman in a wheelchair. She was beautiful, her cheeks full and round, her mouth in a constant soft smile as she spoke. She [...]

2017-10-23T21:59:22+00:00October 21st, 2015|

Food and the Dying Patient

By Dr. Jessica Nutik Zitter Source: New York Times Well Blog The patient had dementia and could no longer swallow. The intricate workings of the muscles of her throat were failing, and she was no longer able to move food or liquids reliably into her stomach. Instead, they too frequently ended up in her lungs, and she drowned a little [...]

2017-10-23T21:54:18+00:00August 21st, 2014|

Who Can Speak for the Patient?

By Dr. Jessica Nutik Zitter Source: New York Times Well Blog Our patient was never going to wake up. He had an unrecoverable brain injury. The prognosis had become clear over time. As the patient’s attending physician in the intensive care unit, I arranged a meeting with his sister, the only visitor we’d seen for days, and explained. She [...]

2017-10-23T21:54:30+00:00June 19th, 2014|

A ‘Code Death’ for Dying Patients

By Dr. Jessica Nutik Zitter Source: New York Times Well Blog Sadly, but with conviction, I recently removed breathing tubes from three patients in intensive care. As an I.C.U. doctor, I am trained to save lives. Yet the reality is that some of my patients are beyond saving. And while I can use the tricks of my trade to [...]

2017-10-23T21:54:44+00:00April 10th, 2014|

They Call Me ‘Dr. Kevorkian’

By Dr. Jessica Nutik Zitter Source: New York Times Well Blog The patient had a severe pneumonia of advanced AIDS. He’d been lying in our intensive care unit for three weeks, a breathing tube thrust into his raw airway, his face a mixture of pain and resignation. His weakened lung tissue had popped in several areas, requiring chest tubes [...]

2017-10-23T21:54:54+00:00November 14th, 2013|