Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science

Finalist, National Book Awards 2002 for Nonfiction

Complications by Atul Gawande Book Cover
ISBN 9780805063196
Metropolitan Books
Atul Gawande author photo
Atul Gawande

Atul Gawande, MD, MPH, is a surgeon, writer, and public health leader. He is CEO of the non-profit-seeking health care venture formed by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase to deliver better outcomes, satisfaction, and cost efficiency in care. More about this author >

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Sometimes in medicine the only way to know what is truly going on in a patient is to operate, to look inside with one’s own eyes. This book is exploratory surgery on medicine itself, laying bare a science not in its idealized form but as it actually is — complicated, perplexing, and profoundly human.

Atul Gawande offers an unflinching view from the scalpel’s edge, where science is ambiguous, information is limited, the stakes are high, yet decisions must be made. In dramatic and revealing stories of patients and doctors, he explores how deadly mistakes occur and why good surgeons go bad. He also shows us what happens when medicine comes up against the inexplicable: an architect with incapacitating back pain for which there is no physical cause; a young woman with nausea that won’t go away; a television newscaster whose blushing is so severe that she cannot do her job. Gawande offers a richly detailed portrait of the people and the science, even as he tackles the paradoxes and imperfections inherent in caring for human lives.

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