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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Bruce E Jarrell, MD (University of Maryland School of Medicine)
Description: This book addresses common surgical errors and methods to avoid making them.
Purpose: The purpose is to provide a clear exposition of the most commonly encountered surgical errors and complications and a description of how to avoid and/or treat the complication.
Audience: Anyone practicing or training for general or specialty surgery would be an appropriate audience.
Features: The book covers 186 different topics in its 496 pages. It is broken down into broad categories of errors associated with the emergency department, the operating room, and intensive care unit. It includes details on devices such as surgical lines, drains, and wounds and medical problems such as bleeding and thrombosis. It also discusses complications related to surgery of the GI tract and complications that occur in the in-patient setting. It is written by numerous authors, all of whom have clinically relevant expertise and who are actively practicing physicians. Each topic typically has a section that identifies the problem or error and then a discussion of its management. At the end of each topic, there are references and suggested readings. Scattered throughout are occasional tables and diagrams to help understand the problem.
Assessment: I read this from cover to cover because I found it to be very engaging. The choice of topics is carefully thought out and representative of common problems encountered in the usual practice of surgery or anesthesia. As I read the book, I felt that it represented a conversation between several practitioners and other care providers who were attempting to decrease errors and improve the outcomes of their patients. Many of the topics were memorable to me as complications discussed in prior morbidity and mortality conferences. Where appropriate, evidence-based medicine was brought into the discussion, but many of the topics are described using the art of surgery rather than evidence-based medicine. Other chapters address unusual problems and poorly known facts that are included because of their catastrophic consequences. Discussing both types of problems contribute significantly to the educational value. This book would be excellent for students rotating on surgery as well as for surgical and emergency medicine residents. Reading it was like having a more experienced physician talk about how to deal with various dangerous situations. I enjoyed this book a lot.