A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science
By Atul Gawande
(Metropolitan Books, Hardcover, 9780805063196, 269pp.)
Publication Date: April 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.
Atul Gawande is author of three bestselling books: "Complications", a finalist for the National Book Award; "Better", selected by Amazon.com as one of the ten best books of 2007; and "The Checklist Manifesto". His latest book is "Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End". He is also a surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, a staff writer for "The New Yorker", and a professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. He has won the Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science, a MacArthur Fellowship, and two National Magazine Awards. In his work in public health, he is Executive Director of Ariadne Labs, a joint center for health systems innovation, and chairman of Lifebox, a nonprofit organization making surgery safer globally. He and his wife have three children and live in Newton, Massachusetts.