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Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an…
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Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science (original 2002; edition 2003)

by Atul Gawande

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,571744,004 (4.12)120
A brilliant and courageous doctor reveals, in gripping accounts of true cases, the power and limits of modern medicine. 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 also shows us 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. Gawande offers a richly detailed portrait of the people and the science, even as he tackles the paradoxes and imperfections inherent in caring for human lives. At once tough-minded and humane, Complications is a new kind of medical writing, nuanced and lucid, unafraid to confront the conflicts and uncertainties that lie at the heart of modern medicine, yet always alive to the possibilities of wisdom in this extraordinary endeavor.… (more)
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Title:Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science
Authors:Atul Gawande
Info:Picador (2003), Paperback, 269 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

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

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Showing 1-5 of 73 (next | show all)
Read for Class Etc Book Club
  Elizabeth80 | Mar 30, 2020 |
What’s The Point?
As a computer engineer of sorts, science and related engineering fields interest me. The book offers anecdotes from several different fields of medicine, explaining some of the science behind the field and the sometimes the utter lack therefore. Doctors are humans and humans are imperfect, but oftentimes, it seems like doctors do not want to improve and do not or can not look objectively at themselves. This book helps to explain how doctors can get there and does it a funny interesting manner.

How Was It?
Great, quick, read that is well organized, researched, covers historical elements of medicine, and very human all at the same time.

Who Should Read It?
Anyone interested in learning more about the science of medicine and learning how doctors exist. ( )
  askedrelic | Aug 31, 2019 |
Gawande, a surgeon, argues that medicine isn't an exact science and therefore mistakes are inevitable. He then explores the line between that potential for error and the humanity necessary to make doctors good at what they do.
This is a good, interesting read with all sorts of worthy insights, and Gawande is an excellent writer. My only issue with it is that I have Surgery/Hospital Fear, and his anecdotes supporting the message of medicine as not infallible really didn't help that. It's, of course, my own shortcoming and not the book's, and I can otherwise happily recommend it. ( )
  electrascaife | Jul 19, 2019 |
Not only was it an engaging read, but it has changed how I approach my own doctors. I have gained an appreciation how we interact - health professional and patient - and where our boundaries are. I'm more demanding of the doctor, asking more questions, and I'm more observant of my own participation in health care decisions.
And such stories this man tells! ( )
1 vote MaryHeleneMele | May 6, 2019 |
CBR 10 BINGO Square: Backlog (Added this to my TBR list on February 12, 2013 - the day I joined Goodreads, apparently)

Best for: People who enjoy good writing about medical issues. NOT for those who get squeamish reading about surgical procedures.

In a nutshell: Surgeon Atul Gawande (you probably know him from Being Mortal; I think my favorite of his is the Checklist Manifesto) shares stories about his time as a surgeon, exploring the reality that surgeons are humans and make mistakes.

Worth quoting:
“In the medicine, we have long faced a conflict between the imperative to give patients the best possible care and the need to provide novices with experience.”

Why I chose it: I can’t believe I haven’t read this yet - I thought I’d read all of his books. So when I sorted my Goodreads list for this CBR10 I was shocked to see it on there. I worried I’d start reading it and realize I’d read it before, but nope. It was new to me!

Review:
First off - CANNONBALL! My sixth since I started with CBR 5. Ah, how the time flies.

I enjoyed this book. I think it could have been better organized, but any time I get to read Dr. Gawande’s writing, I know I’m going to learn something and I’m going to enjoy reading it. He’s so talented, it seems unfair - a surgeon who can also write, and write well?

This book explores, through three distinct parts, the challenges of medicine that arise because humans are humans who need to learn and who make mistakes. The first section looks at learning and mistakes, the second at trying (and sometimes failing) to solve medical mysteries, and the third focuses on indecision.

The book starts off intensely, with Gawande sharing how he learned to put in a central line. It’s quite graphic, and does a great job of getting across the point that we all know somewhere in our mind (or every Thursday night when we watch Grey’s Anatomy): that doctors have to learn somehow. And usually that means performing on patients who are sick and injured. As patients, we want the best to treat us and our families, but the best only get there by practicing, which means that at some point we’re going to get the worst.

The second section, on medical mysterious, explores the frustration of healthcare professionals and patients when there is something wrong but we don’t know the cause and don’t know how to fix it. Like, for example, the woman who had nearly uncontrollable nausea for her ENTIRE PREGNANCY. Basically, what the Duchess of Cambridge had, but apparently it never stopped. I just … ack.

The final section is a reminder of the fact that sometimes, doctors just don’t know exactly what to do. The last chapter illustrates this amazingly well, with a woman who either has cellulitis or flesh-eating bacteria, and the doctors — and the patient — need to make a decision on the path forward. It looks at how much should doctors be directing care and how much should patients be? How do you find a compromise that respects the choice of the patient but also the knowledge and experience of the doctor?

Like I said, it’s an interesting book. It’s not a five-star read for me mostly because the chapters aren’t as well-connected as they could be. But it’s a strong four, because it’s Gawande. ( )
  ASKelmore | Sep 6, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 73 (next | show all)
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For Kathleen
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I was once on trauma duty when a young man about twenty was rolled in, shot in the buttock.
Quotations
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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A brilliant and courageous doctor reveals, in gripping accounts of true cases, the power and limits of modern medicine. 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 also shows us 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. Gawande offers a richly detailed portrait of the people and the science, even as he tackles the paradoxes and imperfections inherent in caring for human lives. At once tough-minded and humane, Complications is a new kind of medical writing, nuanced and lucid, unafraid to confront the conflicts and uncertainties that lie at the heart of modern medicine, yet always alive to the possibilities of wisdom in this extraordinary endeavor.

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