Thursday, September 20, 2012


Miriam hosted and treated us to a delicious Mexican meal, along with her amazing margaritas (made extra lim-o-licious by including the skin of the lime when tossed into the blender).

Her pick.  So this month, the Book Babes read and discussed Complications, A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science, by Atul Gawande.  A suitable choice for a physician.

It did make me question the fallibility of the current system, and I guess that's a good thing.

The chapter, When Good Doctors Go Bad reminded me about some of the doctors I've had and made me wonder why I didn't report them to medical authorities.  Like the time  Alex' eardrum was punctured in the doctor's office when he was just 3 or 4 years old by his pediatrician (the doctor was 82 and should have stopped practicing, but we learned the hard way).

Complications was a fascinating read.  Somehow, I thought doctors knew more about what they were doing, that it was more of a perfect than imperfect science, that there were predictable outcomes and a low margin of error.  Actually, it's more of a predictable margin of error:
According to a Harvard Medical Practice Study - a review of more than thirty thousand hospital admissions in New York State, found that nearly 4% of hospital patients suffered complications from treatment which either prolonged their hospital stay or resulted in disability or death.
The author is bringing important facts to light to help change attitudes and improve approaches to address medical complications few like to talk about. I wasn't the only one who found the book discomfiting. However,  the two doctors in our group countered with their point of view that the book was hopeful and the situations described fairly commonplace.

Not at all clinical.  Easy to read.  Eye-opening.
No one writes about medicine as a human subject as well as Atul Gawande.  His stories are scary, funny, absorbing, and always touched with both a tender conscientiousness and an alert, hyper-intelligent skepticism.  He captures, as no one else has, the doubleness of doctoring:  what it feels like to see other people as fascinating, intricate, easily breakable machines and, at the same time, as mirror images of one's own self.  Complications is a uniquely soulful book about the science of mending bodies.
- Adam Gopni, author of Paris to the Moon

No comments: