Complications by Atul Gawande
A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science

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Synopsis

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.
 

About Atul Gawande

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Atul Gawande is the author of Better and Complications, a National Book Award finalist. He is also a MacArthur Fellow, a general surgeon at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, a staff writer for The New Yorker, and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. He served as a senior health policy advisor in the Clinton presidential campaign and White House from 1992 to 1993. He received his B.A.S. from Stanford University, M.A. in politics, philosophy and economics from Oxford University, M.D. from Harvard Medical School, and M.P.H. from the Harvard School of Public Health. He lives with his wife and three children in Newton, Massachusetts.
 
Published April 1, 2003 by Metropolitan Books. 292 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Education & Reference, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Complications

Kirkus Reviews

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A gem-like collection of essays on medicine by eighth-year surgical resident, Harvard Med graduate, Rhodes scholar, and New Yorker staff writer Gawande, himself the son of physicians.

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The New York Times

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It would be as foolish to think we have reached the limits of human knowledge as it is to think we could ever know everything.'' The truth is, he says with a justifiable flourish, that medical practice ''may well be more complex than just about any other field of human endeavor.'' ...

Apr 07 2002 | Read Full Review of Complications: A Surgeon's No...

The Guardian

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Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Scienceby Atul Gawande Profeil £12.99, pp269 It begins with a bullet wound in a young man's buttock and ends with a woman whose leg is almost destroyed by flesh-eating bacteria.

Nov 17 2002 | Read Full Review of Complications: A Surgeon's No...

Publishers Weekly

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Medicine reveals itself as a fascinatingly complex and "fundamentally human endeavor" in this distinguished debut essay collection by a surgical resident and staff writer for the<EMPHASIS T

Feb 25 2002 | Read Full Review of Complications: A Surgeon's No...

Star Tribune

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Review: A staff writer for the New Yorker and a practicing surgeon, Gawande has produced a disturbing, beautifully crafted book about the experiences of doctors and patients.

Aug 10 2002 | Read Full Review of Complications: A Surgeon's No...

Entertainment Weekly

Gawande, a former Rhodes scholar, star surgical resident, father of three children, and a staff writer at The New Yorker, isn't content just to be an overachiever: He's also, as seen here, extraordinarily compassionate and thoughtful.

Apr 26 2002 | Read Full Review of Complications: A Surgeon's No...

PopMatters

A doctor with three other patients to see and, inevitably, gaps in what he knows and skills he’s still trying to learn.” He talks about doctors making mistakes and losing their license, not as villains but as sad inevitabilities, reminding us that the practice of medicine and the job of modern...

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Project MUSE

Gawande's book powerfully makes these clinical disguises visible to patients and others.

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India Today

As Atul Gawande puts it, "Some 32 per cent of the general working-age population develops at least one serious mental disorder and there is no evidence that such disorders are any less common among doctors ...

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The Health Care Blog

But no matter – whether you come to this book because you are ready to better understand the realities of aging and what our society and the medical profession must do to improve things, or because you are a Gawande fan (I came for both reasons), you will not be disappointed.

Dec 15 2014 | Read Full Review of Complications: A Surgeon's No...

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