Reading Spot and Cell Cake

March 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

I spent all day today reading Complications and making my brother a cake for his birthday tomorrow. He is turning 22 and in lieu of recent events, I feel it is only fitting to have a medical themed cake – so I made an animal cell! I had a lot of fun doing it, though I didn’t plan for it to take all day. Hope he likes it when we wake him up tomorrow.

I’ve been highlighting several interesting lines in Complications that I feel are worth sharing here. I am so happy that found this book. I really makes the stress of these coming years more bearable. It offers such a different view into the world of medicine than the one portrayed in TV shows and popular culture. Plus, I enjoy the clash between medical reality and ethics in society.

In surgery, as in anything else, skill and confidence are learned through experience – haltingly and humiliatingly.

In the context of  the dilemma of a patients right to the best possible care versus the objective training of novices:

We want perfection without practice. Yet everyone is harmed if no one is trained for the future. So learning is hidden, behind drapes and anesthesia and the elisions of language.

Learning must be stolen, taken as kind of bodily eminent domain.

In the context of his position as an attending pushing a junior resident to put in a central line:

It is painful enough taking responsibility for one’s own failures. Being handmaiden to another’s is something else entirely.

In the section, “When Good Doctors Go Bad”:

The British psychologist James Reason argues, in his book Human Error, that our propensity for certain types of error is the price we pay for the brain’s remarkable ability to think and act intuitively – to sift quickly through the sensory information that constantly bombards us without wasting time trying to work through every situation anew. Thus systems that rely on human perfection present what Reason calls “latent errors” – errors waiting to happen.

In the context of doctors coming together to analyze error and improve performance:

Error experts, therefore, believe that it’s the process, not the individuals in it, that require closer examination and correction.

No matter what measures are taken, doctors will sometimes falter, and it isn’t reasonable to ask that we achieve perfection. What is reasonable is to ask that we never cease to aim for it.

My sunny reading spot in the kitchen 🙂 Lights up from about 10-10:30. My favorite part of the morning.

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