> Skip to content
  • Published: 15 March 2017
  • ISBN: 9781101982556
  • Imprint: Avery
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 352
  • RRP: $45.00

Extreme Measures

Finding a Better Path to the End of Life



Physician featured in the Netflix documentary Extremis.

An ICU and Palliative Care specialist offers a framework for a better way to exit life that will change our medical culture at the deepest level

In medical school, no one teaches you how to let a patient die.

Jessica Zitter became a doctor because she wanted to be a hero. She elected to specialize in critical care—to become an ICU physician—and imagined herself swooping in to rescue patients from the brink of death. But then during her first code she found herself cracking the ribs of a patient so old and frail it was unimaginable he would ever come back to life. She began to question her choice.

Extreme Measures
charts Zitter’s journey from wanting to be one kind of hero to becoming another—a doctor who prioritizes the patient’s values and preferences in an environment where the default choice is the extreme use of technology. In our current medical culture, the old and the ill are put on what sheterms the End-of-Life Conveyor belt. They are intubated, catheterized, and even shelved away in care facilities to suffer their final days alone, confused, and often in pain. In her work Zitter has learned what patients fear more than death itself: the prospect of dying badly. She builds bridges between patients and caregivers, formulates plans to allay patients’ pain and anxiety, and enlists the support of loved ones so that life can end well, even beautifully.

Filled with rich patient stories that make a compelling medical narrative, Extreme Measures enlarges the national conversation as it thoughtfully and compassionately examines an experience that defines being human.

  • Published: 15 March 2017
  • ISBN: 9781101982556
  • Imprint: Avery
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 352
  • RRP: $45.00

Praise for Extreme Measures

"Part memoir, part exposé, this book is an insider's view of intensive care in America and its impact on how we die, written by a physician uniquely positioned to examine end-of-life care. Dr. Jessica Zitter’s wisdom derives from a career whose trajectory – she specializes in both ICU and palliative medicine – models a rethinking of care for the dying. Her book is a trenchant critique and a clarion call for end-of-life care that aligns with what each patient values most." —Lucy Kalanithi

Related titles