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Publisher's Summary

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, why good surgeons go bad. He shows 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 also ponders the human factor that makes saving lives possible.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.
©2002 Atul Gawande (P)2003 Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC
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Critic Reviews

"Gawande's sharp eye, crisp prose, and insightful understanding make his book as enjoyable as it is edifying." (Los Angeles Times )
"Diagnosis: riveting." (Time)
"These exquisitely crafted essays, in which medical subjects segue into explorations of much larger themes, place Gawande among the best in the field." (Publishers Weekly)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By A. Ryan on 12-05-03

Great book

This is a great and informative book. However, it would be even better unabridged. There is a lot of good stuff left out of this abridged version.

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13 of 13 people found this review helpful


By T.K. on 05-31-03

It's about time...

When I finished this audio book, these words came to me: It is about time someone took the mysticism out of the medical community. It gives hope in large doses.

This is a very well written, informative book and very well read by the narrator. As a surgical nurse and patient advocate for 25 years, I have seen a lot and worked with hundreds of surgeons and the entire gamut of every physician type that this author speaks of. Yes, in the early days, with the crazy ones and the fools, I have watched the Good Old Boys Club protect their own even when they knew it was the wrong thing to do. But I have also seen true courage, love for the patients, love for the work, unwavering dedication, astounding skill, beautiful and artistic craftsmanship, and absolute advocacy for a patient's wellbeing.

This book helps the reader rethink the outdated impression that doctors should be deified and thus obeyed unequivocally. That there is as much of a balance of good and bad in the medical community as there is in any community and that, with an educated point of view, knowledge becomes your empowerment to help make the decisions effecting your life. This book instills in the reader the imperative to proactively undertake the partnership we all should have with our doctors regarding our own health care. And most importantly, even when to walk away from the situation if needed and seek out another doctor who will acknowledge the partnership. The doctor/author helps with the reader's understanding that the majority of our doctors/surgeons are, after all, only human and though experts at what they do, are simply doing what we do in our professions every day: do the best you know how with what you have to work with.

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29 of 32 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By D. Brown on 06-26-13

Surprising and shocking insights

Any additional comments?

This was a very well written book with some interesting, surprising and shocking insights into the medical industry. One thing Gawande makes very clear throughout the book: doctors are human and thus as fatally flawed as the rest of us! His use of real cases is underpinned by something more striking: his knowledge of his patients as people beyond the hospital. He is not afraid to speak against his peers and admit that there are failings in the medical system itself and with individuals and that there are mistakes made that shouldn't be.<br/><br/>Far from leaving me reticent about ever seeing a doctor again, I applaud Gawande's plain speaking and honest admissions. Sadly, we all make mistakes and this is a profession in which mistakes can be both epic and tragic; however, perhaps the bigger tragedy is that fear of being sued for simply doing one's job to the best of one's ability but making a rare error is enough to prevent full open and frank discussion with colleagues and the patients' families to ensure that such mistakes are more easily avoided in the future.<br/><br/>In a world of 'Where there's blame, there's a claim' mentality, shouldn't we be assigning some blame to 'ambulance chasers' whose willingness to destroy someone's reputation and perhaps career for the sake of making money could deprive a hospital - and society - of another competent, well-skilled doctor. Not only that but they make it practically impossible for doctors to learn from the errors of others, so great is the fear of admitting 'I made a mistake'.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful


By Amz on 01-05-17

Top class

An absolutely brilliant listen. Highly recommended to those with an interest in medicine and surgery. It really describes a real picture of how things don't always go the way you plan in medicine yet, beautifully explains how professionals overcome and learn from difficult situations

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