Book Review: Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance by Atul Gawande

Written by a surgeon, this book is a collection of essays about medicine and much more. Dr. Gawande is a staff member of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, graduate of Stanford, Oxford, and Harvard.

A Surgeon's Notes on Performance

The essays are seamless and extraordinarily easy to read, even when explaining complex issues. The overarching theme of he book is the importance of attention to the details and the profound effects that can have on performance. A theme that transcends medicine.

The essays cover the attempt to eradicate polio in India, military surgeons awe-inspiring improvements in saving the casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, the importance of hand washing in preventing infections in hospitals, use of chaperons for breast exams, and advancements in child birth.

Improving survival rates for war casualties centered around improvements in performance, not technological or scientific improvements in medicine. The improvements were the result of tireless analysis of the speed of treatment and moving medical teams closer to the wounded.

Dr. Gawande does an astonishing job of explaining the cost of medical care. Though he does not offer answers, he does provide valuable information that must be taken into consideration. Dr. Gawande also tackles the difficult issue of whether physicians should participate in the death penalty, in the face of increasing insistence by courts to have trained personnel administer lethal injections.

This book may not leave the reader with answers, but it does leave the reader much better informed about the questions that should be asked. It also leaves you with the tools you can use to improve your performance no matter what you do.

yojoe (giving 4.5 stars) out

2 Responses

  1. Wow, shows what you can do with a lot of time on your hands, doesn’t it? A perfect case for putting inmates to WORK. Don’t let them sit around and waste tax payer’s money, or pump up their muscles, or train others how to be criminals. WORK WORK WORK. HEH

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Debbie – Your comments are correct, but you probably were intending to comment on Mr. Jonathan Lee Riches©, not Dr. Gawande. It does not appear that Dr. Gawande would train other criminals. He seems to be a good guy.
    Thanks for the comment.


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