Monday, April 30, 2012

Ask New Questions

I had actually read Better before this class, way back during my Junior year of high school when it first came out. One of my neighbors, who is a malpractice lawyer, gave it to me and told me that  reading it would be a good start in making sure he wouldn't have to sue me when I eventually (hopefully) become a doctor. I found all of the anectodes in the book really interesting when I first read it, but some of the larger concepts kind of went over my head given that I didn't know much about the health care system and didn't really have a well developed idea of what being a doctor would actually involve since no one in my immediate family was a doctor and I didn't have much guidance. Reading the book opened my eyes to a lot of issues in the field of medicine that I hadn't thought about, and rereading it now in the context of everything we've learned in this class I think it's a great tool for aspiring doctors to get a peek inside the complicated world that doctors face every day. 

Particularly, what stood out to me the most in Gawande's Better was his suggestion to ask patients new and genuine questions, which was one of his 5 concluding suggestions to physicians at the end of the book. I think this is a really helpful and valuable suggestion that can be utilized in a variety of different realms when practicing medicine and can lead to better diagnoses and better treatments. In one sense it sort of echoes back to How Doctors Think in that in complicated cases it's helpful to set aside old records and look at a case with a clean slate in order to avoid making the same wrong diagnosis over and over again. It can also help doctors to get to know a patient better in a short amount of time by asking questions that really give a sense of what the person is going through, instead of skimming the surface of a patient's records and not getting any valuable information out of them. In addition, asking new questions can put a research-like spin on new cases in that a doctor can treat each new case like a puzzle that they are trying to solve instead of slipping into a routine which can become mundane and cause doctors to miss important clues that would lead them to the right diagnosis. 

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