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, 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. Gawande also ponders the human factor that makes saving lives possible.
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.
"Gawande's sharp eye, crisp prose, and insightful understanding make his book as enjoyable as it is edifying." (
Los Angeles Times )"Diagnosis: riveting." (
Time)"These exquisitely crafted essays, in which medical subjects segue into explorations of much larger themes, place Gawande among the best in the field." (
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Surprising and shocking insights
This was a very well written book with some interesting, surprising and shocking insights into the medical industry. One thing Gawande makes very clear throughout the book: doctors are human and thus as fatally flawed as the rest of us! His use of real cases is underpinned by something more striking: his knowledge of his patients as people beyond the hospital. He is not afraid to speak against his peers and admit that there are failings in the medical system itself and with individuals and that there are mistakes made that shouldn't be.
Far from leaving me reticent about ever seeing a doctor again, I applaud Gawande's plain speaking and honest admissions. Sadly, we all make mistakes and this is a profession in which mistakes can be both epic and tragic; however, perhaps the bigger tragedy is that fear of being sued for simply doing one's job to the best of one's ability but making a rare error is enough to prevent full open and frank discussion with colleagues and the patients' families to ensure that such mistakes are more easily avoided in the future.
In a world of 'Where there's blame, there's a claim' mentality, shouldn't we be assigning some blame to 'ambulance chasers' whose willingness to destroy someone's reputation and perhaps career for the sake of making money could deprive a hospital - and society - of another competent, well-skilled doctor. Not only that but they make it practically impossible for doctors to learn from the errors of others, so great is the fear of admitting 'I made a mistake'.
- D. Brown