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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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This book was a little hard to read at first. It was disturbing to have a doctor describing just how fallible doctors are (himself included). But, once I was a few chapters in I couldn't put it down. So many case studies and examples, it turned out to be such an interesting read! ( )
  JenW1 | May 8, 2014 |
A great book about the science and practice of medicine. Gawande, a surgeon, gives an insider's view of the medical profession, a profession that often appears hard-nosed, but is as beset with ambiguity, uncertainty, human judgements, customs, mistakes, and need for practice and learning as other ones. He is not without recommendations, though: Gawande details the benefits of computer-based diagnoses, specialization, the field of anesthesia's success in reducing human, latent errors by analyzing such errors systematically and comprehensively. Recommended. ( )
  ohernaes | Apr 12, 2014 |
Compelling reading, esp the first few chapters, on the dilemmas and challenges doctors face every day. ( )
  Elizabeth088 | Sep 23, 2013 |
Surgeons are fallible, and this book shows how that fallibility plays out in real life. Eye opening,well written, memorable. ( )
  pdepena | Apr 22, 2013 |
I should not have been surprised to learn from the Author's Acknowledgement that Gawande is friends with Malcolm Gladwell -- this book is the doctor's equivalent of a Gladwell book. I really learned a lot from this book and have found myself sharing some of the points with others as I've read it. I should say that Gawande is very graphic in decribing medical procedures and conditions, and there were times I felt a little squeamish (Like reading the chapter on nausea as I was eating lunch; also I'll never be able to hear that TV doctors are about to "put it a line" without wincing) and realized I didn't want to know all this detail, but I'm still glad I read this book.

Some of my favorite points were:
That every patient wants an experienced doctor, but the only way a young doctor becomes an experienced doctor is by performing procedures (very much like a teacher).
The evolutionary purpose of morning sickness
The role of intuition in medicine
How some doctor's go "bad"
The ways doctors try to police themselves
How much doctors and medical researchers still don't know -- the amount of uncertainty and subjectivity.
Other doctors have much to learn from palliative doctors, who take the patient's suffering as seriously as the symptoms.

I also liked reading Gawande's descriptions of his role as a surgical resident -- although how he managed to juggle writing this book with his work and family life (he has a wife and 3 kids) boggles my mind. ( )
1 vote JillKB | Apr 4, 2013 |
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:34:39 -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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