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A Surgeon's Notes on Performance

by Atul Gawande

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  • First Published:
    Apr 2007, 288 pages
    Feb 2008, 288 pages

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shubhamvada mathur (09/25/07)

Better than complications!
I had attended this bookreading at the BnN near Lincoln Center in NY months ago. After that, I happened to hear the NPR podcast of the D.C. bookreading so I finally went and got the book and it's worth it!

Better talks about just that, how doctors can become better. Even among doctors, there is unfortunately a bell curve and instead of opposing that thought, he recommends we instead attempt to find out where we are placed on that curve in the quest to understand and thus, find strategies to perform better. This is a novel concept in the field of medicine, because after all, aren't all doctors supposed to be equal and shouldn't we all have the same outcomes given that we practise in the age of EBM or evidence based medicine. The future of medicine, and perhaps rightly so, is in performance review and improvement. And after thinking and talking and researching about it excessively, he says it boils down to 3 simple things: diligence, doing right and creativity. He gives some examples in the book, the ones I liked best were of course, the cystic fibrosis clinics, the surgeons in Iraq, and the surgeons in an OPD teeming with patients with limited resources in a district in India.
The overall structure of the book was a little hard to get, it seems like a string of essays or pieces combined together to make a fit and then the ending, not really a summary, but perhaps material from another essay. The book is interesting because he commonalizes many echoing questions, thoughts, resistances to change, ethical principles and obstacles that all of us doctors face from time to time.
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