The struggle to perform well is universal, but nowhere is this drive to do better more important than in medicine. In his new book, Atul Gawande explores grippingly how doctors strive to close the gap between best intentions and best performance in the face of obstacles that sometimes seem insurmountable. His vivid stories take us to battlefield ...
The struggle to perform well is universal, but nowhere is this drive to do better more important than in medicine. In his new book, Atul Gawande explores grippingly how doctors strive to close the gap between best intentions and best performance in the face of obstacles that sometimes seem insurmountable. His vivid stories take us to battlefield surgical tents in Iraq, to a polio outbreak in India, and to malpractice courtrooms around the country. He discusses the ethical dilemmas of doctors' participation in lethal injections, examines the influence of money on modern medicine, and recounts the astoundingly contentious history of hand-washing. And he gives a brutally honest insight into life as a practising surgeon. Unflinching but compassionate, Gawande's investigation into medical professionals and their progression from good to great provides a detailed blueprint for success that can be used by people in every area of human endeavour.
I could barely put down Atul Gawande's book on performance in medicine, "Better." Through true accounts that span different fields of medicine, Gawande relates his impressions on where medical practices fail and where they achieve brilliant innovations (often despite incredibly difficult working conditions). There are stories here about combating hospital infections, the WHO's effort to eradicate polio, Forward Surgical Teams in Iraq, basic etiquette for physical exams, medical professionals who have participated in executions of convicts, the malpractice system, and more. This is a broad look at doctors trying to do their best in all walks of the profession, and at times the book is terrifying for a person interested in medicine as a career. Ultimately, however, the tone of the book is very hopeful. We all do the best we can, and Gawande is interested in accumulating the information that can help doctors achieve this goal of perpetual betterment. While I think that medical professionals would benefit from reading this book, I also think that laypersons can get a lot out of these stories, and gain a better understanding of the healthcare system we have as well as healthcare across the globe.
Jan 10, 2008
Not quite as good as Complications but still good. Where Complications was a good read for anyone, Better is a must read for someone interested in going into the medical profession. It gives you some of the good and bad of the profession and ways it can be improved.
Publishers Weekly, 2007-02-12 Surgeon and MacArthur fellow Gawande applies his gift for dulcet prose to medical and ethical dilemmas in this collection of 12 original and previously published essays adapted from the New England Journal of Medicine and the New Yorker. If his 2002 collection, Complications, addressed the unfathomable intractability of the body, this is largely about how we erect barriers to seamless and thorough care. Doctors know they should wash their hands more often to avoid bacterial transfer in the ward, but once a minute does seem extreme. Using chaperones for breast exams seems a fine idea, but it does make situations awkward. "The social dimension turns out to be as essential as the scientific," Gawande writes-a conclusion that could serve as a thumbnail summary of his entire output. The heart of the book are the chapters "What Doctors Owe," about the U.S.'s blinkered malpractice system, and "Piecework," about what doctors earn. Cheerier, paradoxically, are the chapters involving polio and cystic fibrosis, featuring Dr. Pankaj Bhatnagar and Dr. Warren Warwick, two remarkable men who have been able to catapult their humanity into their work rather than constantly stumble over it. Indeed, one suspects that once we cure the ills of the health care system, we'll look back and see that Gawande's writings were part of the story. (Apr.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly, 2007-07-30 Veteran character actor Lloyd does a commendable job in narrating Gawande's arresting expose of the razor-thin margin that separates top doctors from the rest. While the book has its share of sensational and bloodcurdling tales of virulent infections and medicine gone wrong, Lloyd resists the urge to sensationalize his reading. He rightly senses that these tales do not constitute the heart of this book. Some parts are necessarily slow-moving and methodical, including a lecture on the proper way to scrub hands or a complex rundown of India's health care system. Lloyd's quietly authoritative reading lends an unhurried air that is appropriate for a book fundamentally about taking the time to care, and care diligently, about the things that matter most. Gawande's writing works well on audio as several chapters appeared as discrete essays in the New Yorker and the New England Journal of Medicine, and still bear the stamp of stand-alone material. It's perfect for listeners who prefer thoughtful, short essays for a ride in the car or a walk on the treadmill. Simultaneous release with the Metropolitan hardcover (Reviews, Feb. 12). (May) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
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