Complications by Atul Gawande

We are all, whatever we do, in the hands of flawed human beings. The fact is hard to stare in the face. But it is unescapable. Every doctor has things he or she ought to know but has yet to learn, capacities of judgment that will fail, a strength of character that can break.”

Gawande states this obvious yet somehow alarming fact in his essay entitled “When Good Doctors Go Bad”. Most people want to believe that doctors somehow exist above the mortal coil and are always wise, compassionate, and decisive. Yet Gawande, a surgeon and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, shows another side of the medical profession. That doctors make mistakes, experience burnout, and have to go along with bad decisions made by frightened patients.

Gawande not only has tremendous ability as a surgeon, but also incredible insight into his own profession that allows him to look at complex issues from many angles. Yet his descriptions are so good even nausea is fascinating to read about.

My favorite essays are A Queasy Feeling, the one about nausea. The Pain Perplex is a fascinating look at how the brain controls our pain centers. Whose Body is it, Anyway? is a look at the struggle to give patients their rights to treatment verses the doctor who often knows a better course of action. The Case of the Red Leg was about a certain intuition Gawande had about a case that turned out to be correct. Really good.
I haven’t read Better yet but it is waiting on my TBR shelf . I highly recommend Complications.

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