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Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an…

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

by Atul Gawande

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2,348713,916 (4.13)116
Title:Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science
Authors:Atul Gawande
Info:Picador (2003), Paperback, 269 pages
Collections:Your library

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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 70 (next | show all)
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!

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 |
As a health care professional, the topics covered in this book were plausible. I enjoyed learning about them from the physician's perspective. I wish there were more surgeons like the author who have compassion at the bedside without flaunting their surgical pride. Patient centricity is important. ( )
  godmotherx5 | Apr 5, 2018 |
man. This guy is smart. No idea how he has time to be a friggin surgeon and write. But he writes well. Lots of short stories about his time working in the hospital. How doctors are not infallible. Work sounds stressful. ( )
  bermandog | Dec 17, 2017 |
A surgeon's notes on an imperfect science
  jhawn | Jul 31, 2017 |
This is Atul Gawande's first book, written toward the end of his residency as he trained to become a surgeon. It contains many fascinating stories of patients with a variety of conditions and discusses, among other things, how easy it is for doctors to make mistakes and what provisions are in place to reduce the risks, and the paradox of wanting the best possible care for ourselves and our families but at the same time needing to train the next generation of doctors. There's a lot to think about and a fair bit to be grossed out about if you're not a fan of highly detailed descriptions of surgeries. This book is probably more detailed than Henry Marsh's Do No Harm, if that helps as a benchmark. But for those who can stomach the details, this is well worth reading. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Jan 28, 2017 |
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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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