Description: This slender paperback contains a wealth of information for anyone facing surgery. Unique features include boxes addressing "Things to Ask the Surgeon," "Insiders Tips," and "Patient Perspectives."
Purpose: The purpose is to make having an operation "an easier experience" for the reader. The author believes that informed patients will be better able to participate actively in their care, which will lead to better communication and better outcomes. The book succeeds admirably at these simple and worthy objectives.
Audience: The book is written for anyone who needs an operation. The author is a surgeon, a surgical leader, and a person who has undergone surgery himself. He is thus triply qualified.
Features: An introductory chapter is designed to put readers at ease with asking difficult questions and ascertaining the need for the procedure and the qualifications of the surgeon. It then progresses naturally through decision for surgery, choice of surgeon, preparation and day of surgery, postoperative phases (both in hospital and after discharge). Three appendixes provide additional information and names of authoritative web sites.
Assessment: There is an amazing amount of information in this book. Specific procedures are not discussed in detail, but rather used (through the patient vignettes) to illustrate particular points. The author does not hesitate to call a spade a spade, counseling patients, for example, "Make sure all health care providers wash their hands before..." in one of the "Insider's Tips." I hope this book is widely distributed; it fills a needed gap in patient education material.