If the rise in medical malpractice suits (or an average episode of Grey’s Anatomy doesn’t convince you of the fallibility of doctors, then consult a pair of books by two New Yorker staffers, surgeon Atul Gawande’s Better and Harvard Medical School professor Jerome Groopman’s How Doctors Think. Both are superbly written. And in true clinical fashion, with case study after case study, each attacks the question of doctor performance from different angles, filling in the other’s gaps.
Gawande’s Better is more wide-ranging, as he discusses the difficulty of getting doctors to wash their hands between patients, the ethical conundrum for doctors participating in executions, and even a short history of obstetrics. There’s much more, which is both blessing and curse; Gawande’s multi-topic approach makes for a gripping read, but sometimes suggests he’s wandered off course. B+