read: 15 March 2003
I had read one of Gawande’s articles in the New Yorker -- a piece about residents in hospitals getting training to do their first invasive procedures -- and it had always stuck with me. I didn’t even realize that his book was by the same author until I got through the introduction. The rest of the chapters, many of which have also appeared in the New Yorker, met the quality of the first. Gawande is a working surgeon and is also a very interesting, thoughful and experienced medical writer. These essays illustrate many points he has to make about the nature of medicine, and the surgical profession in specific all the while weaving wonderfully written stories in which he features as a character to some degree. He covers such issues as “when doctors go bad [and how to fix them]” and dealing with autopsies and how to request them. He relates a fascinating, if somewhat voyeuristic-seeming story about a diagnosis and treatment of a patient with necrotizing fasciitis [you know, the flesh-eating bacteria]. He treats all of his subjects, even the ones he disagrees with, with respect and honesty. It is easy to say, from reading this book, that Gawande is wasting his time in surgery, that he is an amazing writer who I would love to read more.
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