Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science (Abridged Nonfiction)
by Atul Gawande
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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.
Recomended reading for patients and doctors
"Complications" blends personal antidote with broad reflections on the medical profession. It aims to give the reader insight about the way doctors think and a better understanding about the way the health delivery system really works; for the most part it succeeds on both fronts. Dr. Gawande is a good writer and his observations about the state of modern medicine are both highly literate and easily understood (although the very squeamish might find themselves fast forwarding at certain points). His experience, not just as a surgeon, but also as a medical ethicist and health policy expert shine though at various moments to good effect. Unlike many doctors, he admits to having a deep personal feelings for his patients and is unafraid to call out himself and the health care profession in general for its faults. As a person who has experienced more than my fair share of health-related issues, I maintain this book is invaluable reading for both patients and medical professionals. The reason I am only giving it four stars is because some of the stories tend to drag a bit before Gawande makes his point. Also, little attention is given to problems associated with health care for the under- and uninsured.
Dr.Gawande manages to shed light on what the struggles of being a physician really can be. Also, the aurthor shows how practicing medicine is just that: practice. Well written and accessible to readers without a science background. Allows a peek behind the curtain of medicine and reveals that doctors are just as fallible and vulnerable as anyone else.