Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science

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Henry Holt and Company, Apr 1, 2003 - Medical - 288 pages
53 Reviews

A brilliant and courageous doctor reveals, in gripping accounts of true cases, the power and limits of modern medicine.

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 and why good surgeons go bad. He also shows us 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 offers a richly detailed portrait of the people and the science, even as he tackles the paradoxes and imperfections inherent in caring for human lives.

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.

Complications is a 2002 National Book Award Finalist for Nonfiction.

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - BookConcierge - LibraryThing

5***** and a ❤ This National Book Award finalist REALLY makes you think! It opens your eyes to the imperfections in our system of medical care. Gawande is a surgical resident (when he wrote it), a ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - skrouhan - LibraryThing

In Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science, Gawande examines ambiguities and misunderstandings found in medicine. Specifically, he discusses three topics: fallibility, mystery, and ... Read full review

Contents

Authors Note
1
Education of a Knife
11
The Computer and the Hernia Factory
35
When Doctors Make Mistakes
47
Nine Thousand Surgeons
75
When Good Doctors Go Bad
88
Full Moon Friday the Thirteenth
109
The Pain Perplex
115
A Queasy Feeling
130
Crimson Tide
146
The Man Who Couldnt Stop Eating
162
Part IllUncertainty
187
The Dead Baby Mystery
202
The Case of the Red Leg
228
Notes on Sources
253
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About the author (2003)

Atul Gawande is the author of The Checklist Manifesto and Better. Complications was a National Book Award finalist. He is also a MacArthur Fellow, a general surgeon at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, a staff writer for The New Yorker, and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. He served as a senior health policy advisor in the Clinton presidential campaign and White House from 1992 to 1993. He received his B.A.S. from Stanford University, M.A. in politics, philosophy and economics from Oxford University, M.D. from Harvard Medical School, and M.P.H. from the Harvard School of Public Health. He lives with his wife and three children in Newton, Massachusetts.

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