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Over the past decade, through his writing in The New Yorker magazine and his books Complications and Better, Atul Gawande has made a name for himself as a writer of exquisitely crafted meditations on the problems and challenges of modern medicine. His latest book, The Checklist Manifesto, begins on familiar ground, with his experiences as a surgeon. But before long it becomes clear that he is really interested in a problem that afflicts virtually every aspect of the modern world--and that is how professionals deal with the increasing complexity of their responsibilities. It has been years since I read a book so powerful and so thought-provoking.
Gawande begins by making a distinction between errors of ignorance (mistakes we make because we don't know enough), and errors of ineptitude (mistakes we made because we don’t make proper use of what we know). Failure in the modern world, he writes, is really about the second of these errors, and he walks us through a series of examples from medicine showing how the routine tasks of surgeons have now become so incredibly complicated that mistakes of one kind or another are virtually inevitable: it's just too easy for an otherwise competent doctor to miss a step, or forget to ask a key question or, in the stress and pressure of the moment, to fail to plan properly for every eventuality. Gawande then visits with pilots and the people who build skyscrapers and comes back with a solution. Experts need checklists--literally--written guides that walk them through the key steps in any complex procedure. In the last section of the book, Gawande shows how his research team has taken this idea, developed a safe surgery checklist, and applied it around the world, with staggering success.
The danger, in a review as short as this, is that it makes Gawande’s book seem narrow in focus or prosaic in its conclusions. It is neither. Gawande is a gorgeous writer and storyteller, and the aims of this book are ambitious. Gawande thinks that the modern world requires us to revisit what we mean by expertise: that experts need help, and that progress depends on experts having the humility to concede that they need help. --Malcolm Gladwell
Love Atul Gawande. He is a fascinating writer and makes even checklists seem so interesting. I usually get bored reading non-fiction, but in all his books he has the ability to... Read morePublished 5 days ago by kathryn brownell
Great principles backed by great real world scenarios. This book kept my attention from start to finish on a topic that, let's face it, could be a snoozer. Really great read. Read morePublished 13 days ago by RoadH8r
Amazing how such a mundane topic can be turned into a story of sublime importance for healthcare workers (and non healthcare workers). Read morePublished 16 days ago by Silly Goose
Dr. Gawande writes an excellent book arguing effectively for the use of checklists in medical procedures. Sound boring? Not on your life! Read morePublished 19 days ago by SirRobin
All quality control systems are simply a bunch of checklists to make sure everyone performs the best practices. Everyone in product manufacturing has known this for decades. Read morePublished 22 days ago by Peter Fowler