Saturday, 26 November 2011

Better – by Atul Gawande




This is a must read, important book.  I had never heard of it until a week or so ago when it was given to me by a doctor who lives in our street.  It is stunningly written – very clearly with the least medical jargon possible.  And the subjects it deals with are just so important.
I probably can’t do it justice. But here goes.  He examines how doctors fail and succeed – using some fascinating examples.  He then suggests that major advances in health may be more in the area of diligence and ingenuity than in pure medical research.  Now that all sound pretty blah but it is the issues he tackles that are riveting.

There is a chapter on the really tough issue of making sure health professionals take the time to thoroughly wash their hands between patient contacts.  He makes it clear that most bugs people get in hospital come from the health professionals.  And just how difficult it is when doctors and nurses are rushing to get things done to be sure that they are not spreading infection.  Nailing a solution to this issue would prevent wide scale suffering.

There is a chapter on the crusade to eradicate polio from the world and why it is diligence in the small things that make the difference.

Another chapter deals with war casualties and explains why mortality rates are now so much lower in war.  But also highlights how many people with horrific injuries are now surviving in circumstances where it is not known how to give them any real quality of life going forward.

But the chapter that grabbed me the most was about executions in the US.  Apparently the medical ethics require doctors not to participate in any execution but prison officials nevertheless find doctors and other paramedicals who will get involved.  He talks to a number of doctors and discusses why they do it.  I had never thought about capital punishment from this angle before.  I won’t spoil it for you by saying what his conclusion was.

So all in all, a book that should be of interest to everyone not just those professionally involved with health.  After all we are all affected by these issues.

This is Gawande’s second book, the first one is called Complications.  I am going to find a copy to read soon.





16 comments:

  1. Thanks for mentioning this book in a comment on my blog. I'll check it out. It's always good to read outside of one's field of expertise. Best way to be surprised with some new knowledge.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you do find time - it is so hard to fit everything in - but I'm sure you'll be glad if you do. Thanks for the comment

      Delete
  2. Thanks for pointing me to your review, Carole. I have had Gawande's first book on my wish list for quite some time and will add this one as well. His articles in The New Yorker are excellent, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've read 3 of his books - all were interesting but I think Better was my favourite. Thanks for your comment.

      Delete
  3. Thanks for suggesting this. I've added it to my list.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great. Thanks for all the comments.

      Delete
  4. I have Complications in my library, but have never read it. This sounds like a good one -- although maybe it's stuff I don't want to know!! Thanks for visiting! Have a great week!

    My IMM

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Complications is a good and pretty fast read too. He writes very well - especially for a technical person. Thanks for stopping by to comment.

      Delete
    2. Hey, I resent that! Some of the best writers in the world were technical people, if not most.

      Delete
    3. No offence intended - particularly since I'm a bit technical too - but try not to flaunt it

      Delete
  5. Thanks for stopping by my Post Carole and for living this link. This does sound fascinating and I will try to find it. My friend that is a micro biologist in the hospital will like this too. I like your blog too! Will stop by often.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey - it's so great that you took time to comment.

      Delete
  6. Thanks for stopping by and dropping a link to this post, Carole. This sounds like an interesting book and I'll certainly check it out.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I've read both his first 2 books and about to read his latest , he is a fantastic writer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you liked it. Thanks for commenting
      We neged moreg peopleg to reacd hisf books

      Delete

Your comments are most welcome. Because I don't like the word verification stuff, your comment won't show up until I've moderated it. I will respond to as many comments as I can by email or by visiting your blog.