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Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an…

Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science (2002)

by Atul Gawande

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Listened to CD. Was a thought-provoking "read". ( )
  KylaS | Feb 18, 2016 |
5***** and a ❤

This National Book Award finalist REALLY makes you think! It opens your eyes to the imperfections in our system of medical care.

Gawande is a surgical resident (when he wrote it), a thinker and a poet. He uses case histories to explore the thinking, the philosophy, of medicine. He speaks of mistakes and intuition, luck and skill, good outcomes despite bad treatement, and devastating outcomes despite excellent care. This should be required reading for all medical students and regularly re-read by all MDs.

After I'd read it I couldn't stop talking about it, and convinced one of my F2F book clubs to read it in July 2005. ( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 22, 2016 |
In Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science, Gawande examines ambiguities and misunderstandings found in medicine. Specifically, he discusses three topics: fallibility, mystery, and uncertainty. Although all three topics and their anecdotes could be completely standalone sections, Gawande uses them to make a grander point regarding the imperfect nature of medicine. Gawande’s primary argument is that although we all desire the best possible care from our doctors, we also need to recognize that the medical field is not a perfect science. Doctors are people, and like people, they make mistakes, are inconsistent, and have flaws. Gawande uses real examples to honestly consider complications in the profession; for example, in one of my favorite sections Gawande points out that every patient wants an experienced doctor, but the only way a young doctor can become experienced is by essentially “practicing” on people. He also highlights that medical decisions are sometimes based on a combination of luck and instinct, and occasionally “I don’t know” is the best answer a doctor can give. Complications was a fascinating read, both well-written and thought-provoking. I highly recommend it. ( )
  skrouhan | Sep 21, 2015 |
through anecdotes and examples of patient cases, gawande seems to be honestly writing about fallibility - in medicine, in doctors, in patients. i don't know, so much, that the science is imperfect, but people are imperfect. i like that gawande is putting this information out for public consumption. his writing is fairly simple and accessible. as with Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, he touches on subjects that people either avoid discussing altogether, or are extremely uncomfortable talking about. but i do think there has been a shift in recent years from doctors being viewed as gods - therefore always right and never to be questioned/challenged - to patients being more involved in their own care. but there are still areas that could use improvement, and this is why i haven't rated the book 5-stars: i thought gawande would offer up ideas for how to advance the healthcare systems and doctor-patient relationships in better and more helpful ways. i also thought the book would offer a more cohesive hypothesis, with a conclusion that pulled everything together. thought that didn't happen, i did really enjoy each essay in the book, and found it all fascinating. ( )
  Booktrovert | Jul 4, 2015 |
This book reads like a memoir from any principal player from shows like "Untold Tales from the ER," "Medical Mysteries," or the fictional "ER."

The book breezes along nicely, pausing long enough on the interesting parts and speeding through others to get to the salient information. Dr. Gawande calibrated that very well.

Also on display is the clear passion of the author to his craft. The narrative is sprinkled with good humor, though it's evident he takes his work, and the writing of the book, seriously.

Portrayed clearly is the very human side of medicine, which is important for patients to see.

His summary is simple: We try so hard to help, sometimes we fail, sometimes we succeed, we are so human. ( )
  MartinBodek | Jun 11, 2015 |
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I was once on trauma duty when a young man about twenty was rolled in, shot in the buttock.
As one surgeon told me, it is a rare but alarming thing to meet a surgeon without fear. "If you're not a little afraid when you operate," he said, "you're bound to do a patient a grave disservice."
Normally, people boarding a bus, plane, or train distribute themselves like repelling magnets, keeping a respectful, anonymous distance from one another and sharing seats only if they have to.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312421702, Paperback)

Gently dismantling the myth of medical infallibility, Dr. Atul Gawande's Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science is essential reading for anyone involved in medicine--on either end of the stethoscope. Medical professionals make mistakes, learn on the job, and improvise much of their technique and self-confidence. Gawande's tales are humane and passionate reminders that doctors are people, too. His prose is thoughtful and deeply engaging, shifting from sometimes painful stories of suffering patients (including his own child) to intriguing suggestions for improving medicine with the same care he expresses in the surgical theater. Some of his ideas will make health care providers nervous or even angry, but his disarming style, confessional tone, and thoughtful arguments should win over most readers. Complications is a book with heart and an excellent bedside manner, celebrating rather than berating doctors for being merely human. --Rob Lightner

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:21 -0400)

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"Sometimes in medicine the only way to know what is truly going on in a patient is to operate, to look inside with one's own eyes. This book is exploratory surgery on medicine itself, laying bare a science not in its idealized form but as it actually is - complicated, perplexing, and profoundly human. Atul Gawande offers an unflinching view from the scalpel's edge, where science is ambiguous, information is limited, the stakes are high, yet decisions must be made. In dramatic and revealing stories of patients and doctors, he explores how deadly mistakes occur and why good surgeons go bad. He shows what happens when medicine comes up against the inexplicable: an architect with incapacitating back pain for which there is no physical cause; a young woman with nausea that won't go away; a television newscaster whose blushing is so severe that she cannot do her job. And in a richly detailed portrait of both the people and the science, Gawande also ponders the human factor that makes saving lives possible."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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