An Asian-American surgeon’s memoir on the theme of the difficulty doctors, patients, and society have in coming to grips with death, and how this results in a lot of unnecessarily painful and unpleasant deaths for patients, trauma for their loved ones, and psychological unhealthiness in doctors.

The parts which I found most interesting were when she looked at attempts made to correct this, and tried to analyze why, so far, they have tended to be spectacularly ineffective. (One all-out effort, sustained for two years, produced no measurable results.) There’s no one reason for this, apparently, but contributing factors include doctors feeling that they’re already too busy and not seeing classes in relating to patients as a priority, no one wanting to think about death (patients included), the feeling that death is an admission of failure causing even less desire to think about it, and fear of lawsuits.

I read this book out of interest in the subject matter; it’s reasonably well-written but not so superbly so that I’d recommend it whether you’re interested in the topic or not. If you do have a prior interest or if you haven’t already read a lot of memoirs by doctors, this is a perfectly good book, meticulously researched, thoughtful, and honest. I was a little underwhelmed, but I’ve already read quite a few similar books and at this point it would take something pretty stellar to stand out from the pack. Atul Gawande is the gold standard as far as I’m concerned.
An Asian-American surgeon’s memoir on the theme of the difficulty doctors, patients, and society have in coming to grips with death, and how this results in a lot of unnecessarily painful and unpleasant deaths for patients, trauma for their loved ones, and psychological unhealthiness in doctors.

The parts which I found most interesting were when she looked at attempts made to correct this, and tried to analyze why, so far, they have tended to be spectacularly ineffective. (One all-out effort, sustained for two years, produced no measurable results.) There’s no one reason for this, apparently, but contributing factors include doctors feeling that they’re already too busy and not seeing classes in relating to patients as a priority, no one wanting to think about death (patients included), the feeling that death is an admission of failure causing even less desire to think about it, and fear of lawsuits.

I read this book out of interest in the subject matter; it’s reasonably well-written but not so superbly so that I’d recommend it whether you’re interested in the topic or not. If you do have a prior interest or if you haven’t already read a lot of memoirs by doctors, this is a perfectly good book, meticulously researched, thoughtful, and honest. I was a little underwhelmed, but I’ve already read quite a few similar books and at this point it would take something pretty stellar to stand out from the pack. Atul Gawande is the gold standard as far as I’m concerned.
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