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C&C Magazine

Patient-centered care: pairing medicine, compassion from the San Francisco Chronicle

By Dr. Jessica Nutik Zitter

The 80-year-old woman was so riddled with cancer that her entire rib cage snapped as my co-resident performed CPR. We had all known that she would die during this stay in the hospital, but our attending physician had not signed a “Do not resuscitate” order. Without this order, we felt obliged to engage in this final act of futility.

This story didn’t end well. The woman remained dead as we continued to compress her tiny chest and flood her body with chemicals designed to jump-start her heart. By the time we called for the code to end, she lay on the bed, naked and exposed, looking like the victim of an assault.