Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Medical Insights with Dr. A. Gawande

Fascinating reading is available in two books by Dr. Atul Gawande I’ve read during the past couple of years I am finally briefly reviewing here. I was reminded of my intent to share my impressions of this author’s writing and books when I read “Health Care Reform Revelation” at “Time Goes By” introducing blogger Ashleigh Burroughs who blogs at “The Burrow.” I highly recommend you spend some time reading Ashleigh’s account.

Dr. Atul Gawande is a highly respected researcher and writer whose books I consider to be quite entertainingly informative since I first noted some of his science writing in the New Yorker Magazine. Given our concern with our nation’s health care state you may want to click on this June ‘09 piece I wrote “Health Care Dollars Dilemma” based on his then New Yorker article.

A biography of Dr. Atul Gawande notes this surgeon and writer has extensive medical credentials acquired in his young life. He has associations with Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston.

”He has published research studies in areas ranging from surgical technique, to US military care for the wounded, to error and performance in medicine. He is the director of the World Health Organization's Global Challenge for Safer Surgical Care.”

“In 2006, he received the MacArthur Award for his research and writing. His book COMPLICATIONS: A SURGEON'S NOTES ON AN IMPERFECT SCIENCE was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2002 and is published in more than a hundred countries. He was editor of THE BEST AMERICAN SCIENCE WRITING 2006. His most recent book, BETTER: A SURGEON'S NOTES ON PERFORMANCE is a New York Times bestseller and one of's ten best books of 2007.”

Dr. Gawande writes in layman’s language an account of some of his own medical experiences. “Complications…” is a compilation of New Yorker articles he wrote using real-life scenarios, how doctors gain experience, cope with mistakes, consider ethical issues. He realized later he was using these writing experiences to understand matters that bothered him.

The basis of “Better…” is the doctor’s very honest straight forward descriptions of his training to become a surgeon. He illustrates how patients grapple with surgical decisions weighing risks, making choices. I urge you to click the links on each book’s title for more specific in depth content.

I believe exploring issues from the medical provider’s perspective helps each of us as patients to better interact with our own doctors. Dr. Gawande certainly represents well the thoughtful, caring, intelligent, compassionate doctor, able to view treatments, surgical considerations and ethical issues in a manner such as I desire from my own physicians.


  1. I'm going to see whether a friend of mine has these books. He's an orthopedic surgeon, and I know how he confronts ethical issues every day in his work.
    The core of his ethics is that if a doctor agrees to take a patient, he is responsible for the care of that patient right through to recovery.

  2. This sounds like very interesting reading and he sounds like a very unusual doctor. A rarity these days.

  3. That's an interesting read. I can send this link to a friend who's a medicine student.

  4. You are so right!!!!! I always ask lots of questions. Some doctors like it and some don't. The ones who don't don't remain my doctor very long.

    Ready for the Buckeyes to come to town?

  5. I will research this and forward to my friend who is a navy civilian doctor in Chicago at Lake shore. Blessings...and happy holidays..

    Dorothy from grammology

  6. How doctors become healers is always interesting. I wanted to be a doctor when I was in high school, but it seemed like such a huge leap for a middling student like me. Wish I'd done it.

  7. How doctors become healers is always interesting. I wanted to be a doctor when I was in high school, but it seemed like such a huge leap for a middling student like me. Wish I'd done it.