A Surgeon's Notes on An Imperfect Science

Book - 2002
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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.

Publisher: New York : Metropolitan Books, 2002
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780805063196
Branch Call Number: RD27.35.G39 A3 2002
RD27.35.G39 A3 2002
617.092 G284c
617.092 G284c
Characteristics: x, 269 p. ; 22 cm


From Library Staff

Drawing from compelling true accounts of patients and doctors, a provocative examination of the power and limits of modern medicine reveals a world where science is uncertain, information is limited, and deadly mistakes occur.

One of the most popular physician authors out there, Gawande works at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

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Feb 13, 2018

I was highly entertained (even thrilled) reading each anecdote as if I should have felt more compassion and discovered a few true epiphany. Guess my attitude, pessimistic or realistic, reflects that I never rely on doctors, resort to surgery, or even hold high hope towards modern medicine. Nonetheless, I love his writings (medical) distilled and refined from acute observation and intimate experience, and often agree (reassuringly) with his perspectives and insights.

Sep 02, 2016

This is a very readable, very interesting book written by a surgeon. Each chapter features a different case study where he describes what it is like from the doctor's perspective to face the challenges of diagnosing and treating each new patient. A good book to pick up and read in smaller sections when you find time.

kelleypoole Aug 19, 2012

Excellent reading - the author captures the very essence of both the patient's experience and the surgeon's. He thorough explores the difficulties, challenges, and rewards of medicine by unveiling the details of real life cases, even following up much later with patients he has treated or studied. If you enjoy medical information, this is such a delicious read you won't want to put it down!

susanitat Jan 26, 2012

amazing book. Everybody should read it!! It gives you a different point of view of what medicine is in reality, a very complex world but human indeed.

Apr 02, 2010

Gawande makes it very clear why medicine is an art, not a science--and how much we still don't know, despite how much we've learned. Highly recommended.


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kelleypoole Aug 19, 2012

kelleypoole thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over


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