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Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science Paperback – 27 Mar 2008
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I don't know if Atul Gawande was born to be a surgeon - I very much suspect so - but he was certainly born to write.This wise and exciting account of life as a surgical resident ... perfectly captures the wonder and fearful responsibility that come with cutting people open in the hope of making them whole again. (Bill Bryson)
Ever wondered how realistic ER is? Then read Gawande's superb book. The truth, you will find, is far more compelling, though the endings are never as neat ... Gawande makes the scenes far more dramatic than television ever can. He is a first-class writer. (Scotland on Sunday)
Written as tautly as a thriller. (The Observer)
Gawande draws you in with the story but leaves you wiser about science, about health, and even about the human condition. (Michael Kinsley)
This is a stunningly well-written account of the life of a surgeon: what it is like to cut into people's bodies and the terrifying - literally life and death - decisions that have to be made. There are accounts of operations that go wrong; of doctors who go to the bad; why autopsies are necessary; what it feels like to insert your knife into someone.See all Product description
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I think the one thing which comes over to me from all the medical books I read is that however much medical science advances there is just so much about the human body which remains undiscovered. Doctors are never going to get it right all the time however well trained they are and however much experience they have. I was interested to see how much of an inexact science diagnosis is and the autopsy figures quoted by the author show that the cause of death may turn out to be incorrect as many as a third of cases. The figures haven't changed in the US since the 1930s in spite of the huge increase in modern technology and ways of seeing inside the human body.
It is all too easy to assume that modern medicine has all the answers and this book will swiftly disabuse the reader of this idea. I found the chapter about patients being given all the risks and options fascinating. Do we want doctors to make decisions for us or do we want to be given enough information to make our own decisions? What should a doctor do if he/she believes a patient is making the wrong decision? This author's books are a must read for anyone who has had any dealing with modern medicine if only because it helps to remind us all that doctors are people too
There's a great deal to recommend this book, then. There are also chapters of a bit less interest (about a medical conference for surgeons; about myths surrounding full moons - apparently safer and Friday 13th - no issues). And of course the sustained discussions in Gawande's later books of end of life care and of the virtues of the checklist approach to complex tasks, are even stronger...
Thought provoking and highly recommended.
The content of this book covers an interesting range of subjects - such as why do we get motion sickness; how could we improve medical treatment; do gastric bypasses work?
By I found it hard to escape the rather smug tone of the book and sometime poor quality of writing. Which will stop me reading other books by this author.
At times I found the narrative too detailed when providing an argument to his point. I would not fuss about it though.
Reading it made me realise that a practicing clinician needs both medical knowledge and loads of common sense. This book tries to help us improve on the second aspect.
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Not on the level of Phantoms in the brain by V.S. Ramachandran, for example.Read more
If you think you might ever need to see a doctor, read this book. It could save your life.