I was invited to participate in a public conversation last night with Atul Gawande, a surgeon who writes for the New Yorker on such things as the cost of health care, solitary confinement, and reducing errors in the ICU. What, you were busy organizing your sock drawer?
OK, so I really do think it’s fascinating stuff. Gawande makes it so — I learn interesting things every time I read his writing. And besides, I can’t help admiring his style and voice and the way he tells a story.
His third book, The Checklist Manifesto, is just out. It’s about adopting a simple intervention, a checklist, prior to surgery or in critical care, or other such clinical scenarios. He and colleagues have proven that well-constructed checklists save lives, and yet the hardest part may be convincing doctors to use them.
I’d love to see checklists created for patients to use. Patients are motivated to obtain appropriate health care — even more so than their doctors, I’m afraid — and we should make good on that energy.