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Better : A Surgeon's Notes on Performance
by Atul Gawande

Overview - "The New York Times" bestselling author of "Complications" examines, in riveting accounts of medical failure and triumph, how success is achieved in a complex and risk-filled profession The struggle to perform well is universal: each one of us faces fatigue, limited resources, and imperfect abilities in whatever we do.  Read more...

 
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More About Better by Atul Gawande
 
 
 
Overview
"The New York Times" bestselling author of "Complications" examines, in riveting accounts of medical failure and triumph, how success is achieved in a complex and risk-filled profession The struggle to perform well is universal: each one of us faces fatigue, limited resources, and imperfect abilities in whatever we do. But nowhere is this drive to do better more important than in medicine, where lives are on the line with every decision. In his new book, Atul Gawande explores how doctors strive to close the gap between best intentions and best performance in the face of obstacles that sometimes seem insurmountable.
Gawande's gripping stories of diligence, ingenuity, and what it means to do right by people take us to battlefield surgical tents in Iraq, to labor and delivery rooms in Boston, 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 as in all his writing, Gawande gives us an inside look at his own life as a practicing surgeon, offering a searingly honest firsthand account of work in a field where mistakes are both unavoidable and unthinkable.
At once unflinching and compassionate, "Better" is an exhilarating journey narrated by "arguably the best nonfiction doctor-writer around" ("Salon"). Gawande's investigation into medical professionals and how they progress from merely good to great provides rare insight into the elements of success, illuminating every area of human endeavor. Atul Gawande, a MacArthur fellow, is a general surgeon at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, a staff writer for "The New Yorker," an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. His first book "Complications," was a "New York Times" bestseller and a finalist for the National Book Award. Gawande lives with his wife and three children in Newton, Massachusetts. The struggle to perform well is universal: each one of us faces fatigue, limited resources, and imperfect abilities in whatever we do. But nowhere is this drive to do better more important than in medicine, where lives are on the line with every decision. In his new book, Atul Gawande explores how doctors strive to close the gap between best intentions and best performance in the face of obstacles that sometimes seem insurmountable.
Gawande's gripping stories of diligence, ingenuity, and what it means to do right by people take us to battlefield surgical tents in Iraq, labor and delivery rooms in Boston, a polio outbreak in India, and 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 as in all his writing, Gawande gives us an inside look at his own life as a practicing surgeon, offering a searingly honest firsthand account of work in a field where mistakes are both unavoidable and unthinkable.
At once unflinching and compassionate, "Better" is an exhilarating journey narrated by "a writer with a scalpel pen and an X-ray eye" ("Time"). Gawande's investigation into medical professionals and how they progress from merely good to great provides rare insight into the elements of success, illuminating every area of human endeavor. "'What does it take to be good at something, when failure is so easy?' asks writer/physician Gawande . . . Diligence, ingenuity and 'doing right' . . . Gawande illustrates each of these qualities with stories from his own experience, and] his observations of and conversations with other physicians . . . For young doctors . . . Gawande suggests five strategies: Ask unscripted questions, don't complain, 'count something' (be a scientist as well as a doctor), write something (to make yourself part of a larger world) and change in response to new ideas. A must-read for medical professionals-and a discerning, humanizing portrait of doctors at work for the rest of us."--"Kirkus Reviews" "Gawande provides a cleareyed view of the medical profession that both resonates and gives pause. Once again, he spares no one, himself included. Gawande, a surgeon, manages to capture medicine in all of its complex and chaotic glory, and to put it, still squirming with life, down on the page . . . Gawande's meditation on performance is not only an absorbing collection of essays but also an exhilarating call for the rest of us to do the same . . . Gawande has the ability to deconstruct and explain the most difficult issues while preserving, even celebrating, their complexity. He applies a sly sense of humor to even the most unsettling topics. And his voice is so direct that at times it borders on painful (at least from the perspective of a fellow doctor) . . . With this book, Gawande inspires all of us, doctor or not, to be better."--Pauline W. Chen, "The New York Times Book Review """ ""Better" is a masterpiece, a series of stories set inside the four walls of a hospital that end up telling us something unforgettable about the world outside."--Malcolm Gladwell, author of "Blink " ""Better" is a mesmerizing book with fascinations on every page, told with mastery, insight, compassion, and humility by a surgeon who doesn't flinch from taboo subjects or self-examination. His topics range from the invisible to the unspeakable, and some chapters are exciting medical mysteries. On every page, one meets a candid and thoughtful man, who pays close attention, and who somehow manages to find the right balance between intimacy and respectfulness, in a world that can be inhospitable to both."--Diane Ackerman, author of "An Alchemy of Mind """ "It's hard to think of a writer working today who makes such good use of man's quest to avoid pain and death. Atul Gawande is not only ad

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780805082111
  • ISBN-10: 0805082115
  • Publisher: Metropolitan Books
  • Publish Date: April 2007
  • Page Count: 273


Related Categories

Books > Medical > Essays
Books > Health & Fitness > Health Care Issues

 
BookPage Reviews

A prescription for doctors

In Atul Gawande's new book, Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance, he asks: What things are health care professionals doing "better," and how can they continue to improve? His first discussion involves one of the seemingly simplest methods of reducing infections in hospitals: hand washing. As he tours his hospital with an infectious disease specialist, Gawande realizes how difficult it can be for every person who enters a hospital room to wash their hands on their way in and on their way out. (Think, for instance, of how many rooms hospital workers enter each day.)

Gawande is a master of setting scenes and drawing in readers with details and drama. He travels through villages in India with World Health Organization doctors on a "mop-up" mission to vaccinate millions of susceptible children in an area surrounding a new case of polio. In another essay, Gawande sits in on "War Rounds" at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, then examines how better trauma care is helping more soldiers survive life-threatening injuries. We meet a Boston physician who ended up suing his own hospital for malpractice. Gawande uses such personal stories as fodder for in-depth looks at the many facets of complicated issues such as malpractice, doctors' salaries and more.

Gawande, a 2006 MacArthur Fellow, has a hefty resume: assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, surgeon at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, frequent essayist for The New Yorker and author of the National Book Award finalist Complications. Gawande is one of the best medical writers working today, and this book's short afterword should be required reading for any medical student.

Alice Cary lives near Boston and is an avid fan of medical dramas of every type.

 
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