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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Death With Dignity

Dealing with end of life issues is always tough, but if the medical community were more open and honest with patients and families, better decisions could be made all around. That's the view of Dr. Jessica Nutik Zitter, who joined me on America Weekend to talk about her battles with colleagues over letting people die with dignity instead of having their lives prolonged by machinery and medicine. I asked her about the conflict between relieving a patient's pain and letting them die, whether the expense of medical care factors into the relationship between doctor and patient, how difficult it is logistically to tell patients the truth, and how often she hears from families that a patient "wouldn't want to be kept alive like this."

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Dr. Jessica Nutik Zitter is an attending physician at Alameda County Medical Center in Oakland, California, and author of a NY Times piece, "They Call Me Dr. Kevorkian," and a column for the San Francisco Chronice, "We've Lost The Age-Old Ability To Help People Die."