Better by Atul Gawande

Better by Atul GawandeIn case you have not discovered this author, you are missing the work of an intelligent, thoughtful surgeon. Dr. Gawande is a Boston-area surgeon who shared his medical investigations in Complications. He wrote that book as a resident, which is a marvel in itself, because he took the time to share not only the rigors of training, but also his investigations of topics in medicine that were not purely surgical issues. Better was written as he progressed into his medical career, set up a practice, and began operating on people.

What makes Dr. Gawande unusual is not only his perspective as a physician, but as one who is willing to talk about the triumphs and tragedies of practicing medicine. In this book, he described an all consuming effort to eradicate polio by vaccinating a massive number of children in the region of a village in India. He explained how he feels about having chaperons present in the examining room. He interviewed doctors who go against medical ethics and participate in putting inmates to death. He explains the abysmal statistics relating to failure to wash hands before examining patients. Another chapter provides a picture of why a physician became a medical malpractice attorney, and why a doctor decided to file a medical malpractice suit involving his son’s care – against the doctors on his own hospital staff.

This is a hard-to-put down book – my favorite kind. Read Better and Complications for a lucid, inside look at medicine.

Pat Iyer is president of Med League. She reads for at least an hour every night.

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