By Terry Gross
TERRY GROSS, HOST:
This is FRESH AIR. I’m Terry Gross. My guest is a critical care and palliative care physician who is among the health care professionals trying to find a more humane approach to helping people as they reach the ends of their lives. Dr. Jessica Nutik Zitter wants to help patients avoid what she describes as the end-of-life conveyor belt, where they are intubated, catheterized and die attached to machines, frequently without even knowing they’re dying.
As a critical care doctor, it’s her job to save lives. As a palliative care doctor, it’s her job to decrease physical and emotional suffering. Some people see those two jobs as being at odds with each other. She doesn’t. She works at a public hospital in Oakland, Calif. She’s the author of the book “Extreme Measures: Finding A Better Path To The End Of Life.” And she’s the subject of the Netflix documentary “Extremis.”