The full title of this book is “Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science.” I know a book is a worthwhile read when by the end of it, I have made notes in almost every chapter. Gawande wrote a great book. Not only was it interesting (with many stories about patients and cases he has worked on) but it was informative and honest. Gawande admits that doctors want to be right all the time; in fact, it’s how medical school teaches them to think. But the reality is, medicine is not perfect:
We look for medicine to be an orderly field of knowledge and procedure. But it is not. It is an imperfect science, an enterprise of constantly changing knowledge, uncertain information, fallible individuals, and at the same time lives on the line. There is science in what we do, yes, but also habit, intuition and sometimes plain old guessing. The gap between what we know and what we aim for persists. And this gap complicates everything we do.
Gawande talks about interesting topics such as a Swedish study that suggests machines are more capable of diagnosing patients than doctors, the sometimes extreme risks patients are willing to take to solve their medical issues and if a doctor has the right to reject that treatment, and the biased inconsistencies that American doctors exhibit when it comes to diagnosis and care. The book captivated me and I highly recommend you read it, even if you’re not in the health care industry!