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Atul Gawande: Physician, Surgeon and Writer

Curator: Aviva Lev Ari, PhD, RN

Atul Gawande: Surgeon, Writer, Epidemiologist, Health Outcomes Researcher

Eric J. Topol, MD: Editor’s Note on The Young Surgeon

Atul Gawande, MD, MPH, wears many hats, including that of a surgeon, researcher, journalist, and author. In this segment of Medscape One-on-One, Dr. Gawande talks with Eric J. Topol, MD, about what inspires him, his plans for the future, and why he’s secretly a frustrated rock singer.

WATCH the INTERVIEW of December 06, 2013 on VIDEO

Eric Topol on Medscape > Medscape One-on-One

Atul Gawande on the Secrets of a Puzzle-Filled Career

, Atul Gawande, MD, MPH

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/815241?nlid=41903_2105&src=wnl_edit_medp_card&uac=93761AJ&spon=2

Atul Gawande is a surgeon, writer, and public health researcher. He practices general and endocrine surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and is Director of Ariadne Labs, a joint center for health systems innovation. He is Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health and Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School. And he is also co-founder and chairman of Lifebox, an international not-for-profit implementing systems and technologies to reduce surgical deaths globally.

Soon after he began his residency, his friend Jacob Weisberg, editor of Slate, asked him to contribute to the online magazine. His pieces on the life of a surgical resident caught the eye of The New Yorker which published several pieces by him before making him a staff writer in 1998.

A June 2009 New Yorker essay by Gawande[12] compared the health care of two towns in Texas to show why health care was more expensive in one town compared to the other. Using the town of McAllen, Texas, as an example, it argued that a revenue-maximizing businessman-like culture (which can provide substantial amounts of unnecessary care) was an important factor in driving up costs, unlike a culture of low-cost high-quality care as provided by the Mayo Clinic and other efficient health systems.

Ezra Klein of The Washington Post called it “the best article you’ll see this year on American health care—why it’s so expensive, why it’s so poor, [and] what can be done.”[13] The article was cited by Pres. Barack Obama during Obama’s attempt to get health care reform legislation passed by the United States Congress. The article “made waves”[14] and according to Senator Ron Wyden, the article “affected [Obama’s] thinking dramatically”, and was shown to a group of senators by Obama, who said, “This is what we’ve got to fix.”[15] After reading the New Yorkerarticle, Warren Buffett‘s long-time business partner Charlie Mungermailed a check to Gawande in the amount of $20,000 as a thank you to Dr. Gawande for providing something so socially useful.[16] Gawande donated the $20,000 to the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Center for Surgery and Public Health.[17]

In addition to his popular writing, Gawande has published studies on topics including military surgery techniques and error in medicine, included in the New England Journal of Medicine. He is also the director of theWorld Health Organization‘s Global Patient Safety Challenge. His essays have appeared in The Best American Essays 2003, The Best American Science Writing 2002, The Best American Science Writing 2009 andBest American Science and Nature Writing 2011.

He has been a staff writer for the New Yorker magazine since 1998. He has written three bestselling books: Complications, which was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2002; Better, which was selected as one of the ten best books of 2007 by Amazon.com; and The Checklist Manifesto. He has won two National Magazine Awards, AcademyHealth’s Impact Award for highest research impact on health care, a MacArthur Fellowship, and he has been named one of the world’s hundred most influential thinkers by Foreign Policy and TIME.

ADDITIONAL LINKS

http://gawande.com/about

RESEARCH by Dr. Atul Gawande

Tsai TC, Joynt KE, Orav EJ, Gawande AA, Jha AK. Variation in Surgical-Readmission Rates and Quality of Hospital CareNew England Journal of Medicine Published online September, 2013.

Funk LM, Conley DM, Berry WR, Gawande AA. Hospital Management Practices and Availability of Surgery in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Pilot Study of Three HospitalsWorld Journal of Surgery Published online August, 2013.

Nehs MA, Ruan DT, Gawande AA, Moore FD Jr, Cho NL.Bilateral neck exploration decreases operative time compared to minimally invasive parathyroidectomy in patients with discordant imagingWorld Journal of SurgeryPublished online July, 2013.

Joynt KE, Gawande AA, Orav EJ, Jha AK.Contribution of Preventable Acute Care Spending to Total Spending for High-Cost Medicare PatientsJAMA Published online June 24, 2013.

McCrum ML, Joynt KE, Orav EJ, Gawande AA, Jha AK.Mortality for Publicly Reported Conditions and Overall Hospital Mortality RatesJAMA Published online June 24, 2013.

Spector JM, Lashoher A, Agrawal P, Lemer C, Dziekan G, Bahl R, Mathai M, Merialdi M, Berry W, and Gawande AA.Designing the WHO Safe Childbirth Checklist Program to Improve Quality of Care at ChildbirthInternational Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics Published online June 5, 2013.

Barnet CS, Arriaga AF, Hepner DL, Correll DJ, Gawande AA, Bader AM. Surgery at the End of LifeThe Journal of the American Society of Anathesiologists Published online June, 2013.

Bowman KG, Jovic G, Rangel S, Berry WR, Gawande AA.Pediatric emergency and essential surgical care in Zambian hospitals: A nationwide studyJournal of Pediatric Surgery Published online June, 2013.

Rice-Townsend S, Gawande A, Lipsitz S, Rangel SJ.Relationship between unplanned readmission and total treatment-related hospital days following management of complicated appendicitis at 31 children’s hospitalsJournal of Pediatric Surgery Published online June, 2013.

Eappen S, Lane BH, Rosenberg B, Lipsitz SA, Sadoff D, Matheson D, Berry WR, Lester M, Gawande AA. Relationship Between Occurrence of Surgical Complications and Hospital FinancesJAMA April 17, 2013;309:1599-1606.

Kwok AC, Funk LM, Baltaga R, Lipsitz SR, Merry AF, Dziekan G, Ciobanu G, Berry WR, Gawande AA. Implementation of the World Health Organization Surgical Safety Checklist, Including Introduction of Pulse Oximetry, in a Resource-Limited SettingAnnals of Surgery April 4, 2013.

Molina G, Funk LM, Rodriguez V, Lipsitz SR, Gawande A.Evaluation of Surgical Care in El Salvador Using the WHO Surgical Vital StatisticsWorld Journal of Surgery Published online, March 2013.

Arriaga AF, Bader AM, Wong JM, Lipsitz SR, Berry WR, Ziewacz JE, Hepner DL, Boorman DJ, Pozner CN, Smink DS, Gawande AA. Simulation-Based Trial of Surgical-Crisis ChecklistsNew England Journal Of Medicine 2013;368:246-53.

Spector JM, Reisman J, Lipsitz S, Desai P, and Gawande AA.Access to Essential Technologies for Safe Childbirth: A Survey of Health Workers in Africa and AsiaBMC Pregnancy and Childbirth February 20, 2013;13:43-49.

Wong JM, Panchmatia JR, Ziewacz JE, Bader AM, Dunn IF, Laws ER, Gawande AA. Patterns in neurosurgical adverse events: intracranial neoplasm surgeryJournal of Neurosurgery 2012;33(5):E16.

Wong JM, Ziewacz JE, Ho AL, Panchmatia JR, Kim AH, Bader AM, Thompson BG, Du R, Gawande AA. Patterns in neurosurgical adverse events: open cerebrovascular neurosurgeryJournal of Neurosurgery 2012;33(5):E15.

GO TO the First article

http://gawande.com/articles

FIRST ARTICLE

Nanevicz TM, Prince MR, Gawande AA, Puliafito CA. Excimer laser ablation of the lens.Archives of Ophthalmology. 1986;104(12):1825-9.

Selected References

  1. Dr Atul Gawande – 2014 Reith Lectures. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved October 18, 2014.
  2. Atul Gawande on Twitter
  3.  Atul Gawande: ‘If I haven’t succeeded in making you itchy, disgusted or cry I haven’t done my job’, The Guardian
  4.  Former Policymaker Opts for Hands-On Health Care – International Herald Tribune
  5. MacArthur Fellows 2006. Atul Gawand
  6. “Atul Gawande Named MacArthur Fellow”. Press release by Brigham and Women’s Hospital. September 19, 2006. Retrieved February 25, 2010
  7. “Q&A with Atul Gawande, Part 2” H&HN. June 30, 2011. Retrieved July 7, 2011.
  8. Why Do Doctors Fail?The Reith Lectures, Dr Atul Gawande: The Future of Medicine Episode 1 of 4, BBC
  9. “Atul Gawande: surgeon, health policy scholar, and writer”.Harvard Magazine. Sep–Oct 2009
  10. Bates, D. W.; Gawande, A. A. (2003). “Improving Safety with Information Technology”. New England Journal of Medicine 348(25): 2526. doi:10.1056/NEJMsa020847.
  11. Weiser, T. G.; Regenbogen, S. E.; Thompson, K. D.; Haynes, A. B.; Lipsitz, S. R.; Berry, W. R.; Gawande, A. A. (2008). “An estimation of the global volume of surgery: A modelling strategy based on available data”. The Lancet 372 (9633): 139.doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(08)60878-8.
  12. Gawande, A. A.; Studdert, D. M.; Orav, E. J.; Brennan, T. A.; Zinner, M. J. (2003). “Risk factors for retained instruments and sponges after surgery”. New England Journal of Medicine 348 (3): 229–35. doi:10.1056/NEJMsa021721. PMID 12529464.
  13. Gawande, A. A.; Thomas, E. J.; Zinner, M. J.; Brennan, T. A. (1999). “The incidence and nature of surgical adverse events in Colorado and Utah in 1992”. Surgery 126 (1): 66–75.doi:10.1067/msy.1999.98664. PMID 10418594.

Dr. Atul Gawande’s Articles in the New Yorker

States of Health
New Yorker
October 7, 2013

Slow Ideas
New Yorker
July 29, 2013

Why Boston’s Hospitals Were Ready
New Yorker
April 17, 2013

Big Med
New Yorker
August 6, 2012

Something Wicked This Way Comes
New Yorker
June 28, 2012

Failure and Rescue
New Yorker
June 4, 2012

200 Years of Surgery
New England Journal of Medicine
May 2, 2012
Documentary

Personal Best
The New Yorker
September 26, 2011

A Townie Speaks
Ohio University Commencement Address
June 11, 2011

Cowboys and Pit Crews
2011 Harvard Medical School Commencement Address
May 26, 2011

The Hot Spotters
The New Yorker
January 17, 2011

Seeing Spots
The New Yorker News Desk
January 27, 2011

Letting Go
The New Yorker
July 26, 2010
(citations)

Now What?
The New Yorker
Apr 5, 2010

Testing, Testing 
The New Yorker
Dec 14, 2009

The Cost Conundrum Redux
The New Yorker
News Desk Blog
Jun 23, 2009

The Cost Conundrum 
The New Yorker
Jun 1, 2009

Hellhole
The New Yorker
Mar 30, 2009

Getting There from Here 
The New Yorker
Jan 26, 2009

The Itch 
The New Yorker
Jun 30, 2008

A Lifesaving Checklist 
The New York Times
Dec 30, 2007

The Checklist 
The New Yorker
Dec 10, 2007

Sick and Twisted
The New Yorker
Jul 23, 2007

The Obama Health Plan
The New York Times
May 31, 2007

A Katrina Health Care System 
The New York Times
May 26, 2007

Rethinking Old Age
The New York Times
May 24, 2007

Let’s Talk About Sex 
The New York Times
May 19, 2007

Doctors, Drugs, and the Poor 
The New York Times
May 17, 2007

Bad Medicine, Sneaking In 
The New York Times
May 12, 2007

Curing the System
The New York Times
May 10, 2007

Can This Patient Be Saved? 
The New York Times
May 5, 2007

The Power of Negative Thinking
The New York Times
May 1, 2007

The Way We Age Now 
The New Yorker
Apr 30, 2007

The Score
The New Yorker
Oct 9, 2006

The Malpractice Mess
The New Yorker
Nov 14, 2005

Piecework
The New Yorker
Apr 4, 2005

The Bell Curve
The New Yorker
Dec 6, 2004

The Mop-Up
The New Yorker
Jan 12, 2004

Desperate Measures
The New Yorker
May 5, 2003

Cold comfort
The New Yorker
Mar 11, 2002

The learning curve
The New Yorker
Jan 28, 2002

The man who couldn’t stop eating
The New Yorker
Jul 9, 2001

Final cut
The New Yorker
Mar 19, 2001

Crimson tide

The New Yorker

Feb 12, 2001

Under suspicion
The New Yorker
Jan 8, 2001

When good doctors go bad
The New Yorker
Aug 7, 2000

GO TO the First article

FIRST ARTICLE
The Gist: Persian Gulf War Syndrome
The Gist
Slate
Oct 25, 1996
BOOKS

THE CHECKLIST MANIFESTO

A New York Times Bestseller and an Amazon Best Book of the Month: December 2009

http://gawande.com/the-checklist-manifesto

BETTER
One of Amazon.com’s 10 Best Books of 2007
Complications
“Essential Reading For Anyone Involved In Medicine”–Amazon.com –  2002

Overkill
An avalanche of unnecessary medical care is harming patients physically and financially. What can we do about it?
Annals of Health Care MAY 11, 2015
http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/05/11/overkill-atul-gawande

It was lunchtime before my afternoon surgery clinic, which meant that I was at my desk, eating a ham-and-cheese sandwich and clicking through medical articles. Among those which caught my eye: a British case report on the first 3-D-printed hip implanted in a human being, a Canadian analysis of the rising volume of emergency-room visits by children who have ingested magnets, and a Colorado study finding that the percentage of fatal motor-vehicle accidents involving marijuana had doubled since its commercial distribution became legal. The one that got me thinking, however, was a study of more than a million Medicare patients. It suggested that a huge proportion had received care that was simply a waste.

tests, drugs, and operations

Millions of Americans get tests, drugs, and operations that won’t make them better, may cause harm, and cost billions.
Our medical systems are broken. Doctors are capable of extraordinary (and expensive) treatments, but they are losing their core focus: actually treating people. Doctor and writer Atul Gawande suggests we take a step back and look at new ways to do medicine — with fewer cowboys and more pit crews.

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End – Deckle Edge, Oct 7, 2014

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Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Simulations Show Young Surgeons Face Special Concerns With Operating Room Distractions

Article Date: 03 Dec 2012 – 1:00 PST

A study has found that young, less-experienced surgeons made major surgical mistakes almost half the time during a “simulated” gall bladder removal when they were distracted by noises, questions, conversation or other commotion in the operating room.

In this analysis, eight out of 18, or 44 percent of surgical residents made serious errors, particularly when they were being tested in the afternoon. By comparison, only one surgeon made a mistake when there were no distractions.

Exercises such as this in what scientists call “human factors engineering” show not just that humans are fallible – we already know that – but work to identify why they make mistakes, what approaches or systems can contribute to the errors, and hopefully find ways to improve performance.

The analysis is especially important when the major mistake can be fatal.

This study, published in Archives of Surgery, was done by researchers from Oregon State University and the Oregon Health and Science University, in the first collaboration between their respective industrial engineering and general surgery faculty.

“This research clearly shows that at least with younger surgeons, distractions in the operating room can hurt you,” said Robin Feuerbacher, an assistant professor in Energy Systems Engineering at OSU-Cascades and lead author on the study. “The problem appears significant, but it may be that we can develop better ways to address the concern and help train surgeons how to deal with distractions.”

The findings do not necessarily apply to older surgeons, Feuerbacher said, and human factors research suggests that more experienced people can better perform tasks despite interruptions. But if surgery is similar to other fields of human performance, he said, older and more experienced surgeons are probably not immune to distractions and interruptions, especially under conditions of high workload or fatigue. Some of those issues will be analyzed in continued research, he said.

This study was done with second-, third- and research-year surgical residents, who are still working to perfect their surgical skills. Months were spent observing real operating room conditions so that the nature of interruptions would be realistic, although in this study the distractions were a little more frequent than usually found.

Based on these real-life scenarios, the researchers used a virtual reality simulator of a laparoscopic cholecystectomy – removing a gall bladder with minimally invasive instruments and techniques. It’s not easy, and takes significant skill and concentration.

While the young surgeons, ages 27 to 35, were trying to perform this delicate task, a cell phone would ring, followed later by a metal tray clanging to the floor. Questions would be posed about problems developing with a previous surgical patient – a necessary conversation – and someone off to the side would decide this was a great time to talk about politics, a not-so-necessary, but fairly realistic distraction.

When all this happened, the results weren’t good. Major errors, defined as things like damage to internal organs, ducts and arteries, some of which could lead to fatality, happened with regularity. 

Interrupting questions caused the most problems, followed by sidebar conversations. And for some reason, participants facing disruptions did much worse in the afternoons, even though conventional fatigue did not appear to be an issue.

“We’ve presented these findings at a surgical conference and many experienced surgeons didn’t seem too surprised by the results,” Feuerbacher said. “It appears working through interruptions is something you learn how to deal with, and in the beginning you might not deal with them very well.” 

SOURCE:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/253456.php

 

Events that should never occur in surgery (“never events“) happen at least 4,000 times a year in the U.S. according to research from Johns Hopkins University.

 

The findings, published in Surgery, is the first of its kind to reveal the true extent of the prevalence of “never events” in hospitals through analysis of national malpractice claims. They observed that over 80,000 “never events” occurred between 1990 and 2010.

They estimate that at least 39 times a week a surgeon leaves foreign objects inside their patients, which includes stuff like towels or sponges. In addition surgeons performing the wrong surgery or operating on the wrong body part occurs around 20 times a week.

Marty Makary, M.D., M.P.H., an associate professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said:

“There are mistakes in health care that are not preventable. Infection rates will likely never get down to zero even if everyone does everything right, for example. But the events we’ve estimated are totally preventable. This study highlights that we are nowhere near where we should be and there’s a lot of work to be done.”

The researchers believe that this finding could help ensure that better systems are developed to prevent these “never events” which should never happen. 

The study examined data from the National Practitioner Data Bank which handles medical malpractice claims to calculate the total number of wrong-site-, wrong-patient and wrong-procedure surgeries.

Over 20 years. they found more than 9,744 paid malpractice claims which cost over $1.3 billion. Of whom 6.6% died, while 32.9% were permanently injured and 59.2% were temporarily injured. 

Around 4,044 never events occur annually in the U.S., according to estimates made by the research team who analyzed the rates of malpractice claims due to adverse surgical events. 

Many safety procedures have been implemented in medical centers to avoid never events, such as timeouts in the operating rooms to check if surgical plans match what the patient wants. In addition to this, an effective way of avoiding surgeries that are performed on the wrong body part is using ink to mark the site of the surgery. In order to prevent human error, Makary notes that electronic bar codes should be implemented to count sponges, towels and other surgical instruments before and after surgery. 

It is a requirement that all hospitals report the number of judgments or claims to the NPDB. Makary did note, however, that these figures could be low because sometimes items left behind after surgery are never discovered. 

Most of these events occurred among patients in their late 40s, surgeons of the same age group accounted for more than one third of the cases. More than half (62%) of the surgeons responsible for never events were found to be involved in more than one incident. 

Makary comments the importance of reporting never events to the public. He stresses that by doing so, patients will have more information about where to go for surgery as well as putting pressure on hospitals to maintain their quality of care. Hospitals should report any never events to the Join Commission, however this is often overlooked and more enforcement is necessary. 

Written by Joseph Nordqvist 
Copyright: Medical News Today 

SOURCE:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/254426.php

 

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