Thursday, November 16, 2006

Atul Gawande, Complications

Atul Gawande, Complications: a surgeon's notes on an imperfect science. Another book for class, but I greatly enjoyed it. It's very straightforward, almost simplistic in delivery, but truly thoughtful and interesting. Good thought on medical decision making, mistakes, complications, balance between judgement and science, and the limits of knowledge. The perspective of a surgical resident is unique. The pieces on surgery and diagnosis were frightening and reassuring at the same time. Gawande's most original thinking was his honest analysis of medical training and the evasion that surrounds it. 1) training leads to mistakes, 2) training and practice are necessary to make good doctors, 3) The choices about who is practiced upon are partly chance, but mostly the disadvantaged are used for practice.

It's a hard book to categorize - it's similar to Oliver Sacks's, in that it's a series of case studies expanded and digressed upon, but without the intellectual and literary pretension (also perhaps not quite as nice to read; sacks writes like a novelist). It's better than most medically oriented nonfiction - more humble and chatty - think Stephen Jay Gould rather than the new england journal of medicine.

1 comment:

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