- Paperback: 269 pages
- Publisher: Picador; 1st edition (April 1, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312421702
- ISBN-13: 978-0312421700
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 21.1 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (629 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,598 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science 1st Edition
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Medicine reveals itself as a fascinatingly complex and "fundamentally human endeavor" in this distinguished debut essay collection by a surgical resident and staff writer for the New Yorker. Gawande, a former Rhodes scholar and Harvard Medical School graduate, illuminates "the moments in which medicine actually happens," and describes his profession as an "enterprise of constantly changing knowledge, uncertain information, fallible individuals, and at the same time lives on the line." Gawande's background in philosophy and ethics is evident throughout these pieces, which range from edgy accounts of medical traumas to sobering analyses of doctors' anxieties and burnout. With humor, sensitivity and critical intelligence, he explores the pros and cons of new technologies, including a controversial factory model for routine surgeries that delivers superior success rates while dramatically cutting costs. He also describes treatment of such challenging conditions as morbid obesity, chronic pain and necrotizing fasciitis the often-fatal condition caused by dreaded "flesh-eating bacteria" and probes the agonizing process by which physicians balance knowledge and intuition to make seemingly impossible decisions. What draws practitioners to this challenging profession, he concludes, is the promise of "the alterable moment the fragile but crystalline opportunity for one's know-how, ability or just gut instinct to change the course of another's life for the better." These exquisitely crafted essays, in which medical subjects segue into explorations of much larger themes, place Gawande among the best in the field. National author tour.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
The theme of this book is reflected in its three parts: Fallibility, Mystery and Uncertainty. Each part talks about a particular aspect of Gawande’s career as a surgeon that deals with the less-certain side of being a doctor. Each concept is accompanied by one or more anecdotal references to his own real-life cases that illustrate his point brilliantly.
And that point is that doctors know a lot - but they don’t know everything. Their education and practical experience can help prepare them with knowledge, but skill comes from years of learned real-world practice. I could really sympathize with him and the stressors he has to deal with. I’ve been guilty as well of feeling my doctor must and should know everything that is right for me to do. The truth is a lot more complicated than that.
This book doesn’t even take into consideration the patient frustrations with healthcare - cost, attention, etc. It really does focus on pulling the screen back and giving you a glimpse into the vast uncertainty that accompanies this sometimes wondrous profession.
This is NOT a book that says, “I’m a surgeon. Here’s all the supercool things I’ve done and this is why I’m awesome and don’t you wish you could get me as your doctor?” This book shows the doctor, warts and all, and makes them much more human.
The marketplace is lacking in good literature on this subspace of healthcare, yet there are so many interesting and controversial aspects of it.
Atul Gawande is a fantastic writer and thinker. I have read all of his books, but I find this one most interesting and instructive. "The Checklist Manifesto" is a great manual for preventing mistakes, but is a bit dry. "Better", his other book, has some interesting stories and presents a fair set of good ideas on improving care.
"Complications" is the one I found to be full of interesting and detailed accounts of what it is like to learn to be a surgeon, be a surgeon, and provides an insider's view on the discipline and the industry. Atul does a great job providing detail on the practices without overwhelming with jargon.
As a young Corpsman with the Marines, I was thrust into medicine, and learned very quickly what did and did not work. "Watch one, do one, teach one" is how we were instructed to learn medical practices. From diagnosing (even though we couldn't "diagnose" as Line Corpsmen...we still did essentially) cellulitis, learning to place sutures, to removing infected toenails, I made mistakes, but generally our medical skills quickly flourished, and we were able to practice outstanding medicine for the grunts.
Atul writes about this, and the decisions he had to make, which affect him to this day. As a surgeon and author, he actually cares about his patients, which is a great thing to have as a medical professional. While he doesn't touch on this very much in his book, his caring about the patients and following up is the mark of a true caregiver. For it is those doctors, medics, corpsmen, nurses, and other medical professionals that actually care and are empathic with their patients, yet know how to distance themselves when needed, that operate the best and can change medicine for the better.
A truly great read, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the healthcare system, surgery, medicine, and anyone who has ever worked in the medical field!