The Weekend Read – The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

UnknownAnother book to which I was introduced by my brother, both Rees boys are hungry readers.

I thought that I had featured it here already but it has either been edited away or my brain is willing me to have done so. What has brought Atul Gawande back to mind is that he is this year’s BBC Reith Lecturer. At time of writing he is three quarters through the broadcasts; they are available to download and I would urge you to listen.

Atul Gawande is a surgeon, author and public health researcher. As a young man he studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Balliol College, Oxford  where he was a Rhodes scholar as was one of his first bosses, Bill Clinton, for whom he acted as an adviser during his election campaign and chaired a government committee after his election. Medicine won out and he returned to complete his medical degree after spending a year or so in Washington.

He has written, initially for The New Yorker, then more widely and has published several books, the third of which is my suggested weekend read. Its full title is The Checklist Manifesto: How To Get Things Right and it deals with the adaptation of simple ideas can transform how we operate in any field. I am not going to do a full review here, just take a look here, here and here.

In the past when I have suggested to dentists that they may want to read the book and perhaps adopt some of the philosophy to their practices the responses have been mixed, to say the least. They vary from the “what’s the point? I never make mistakes”, through “it’s all very well in operating theatres but I’m not sure how it would work here,” to the resounding, “that’s what I do when I’m flying and I already do it to a certain extent, I look forward to seeing what else I can learn”.

It is a great shame that the introduction of the care Quality Commission into the lives of many dental practitioners has given the idea of “box ticking” a bad name. The accumulation of policies in order to justify one’s existence to an inspector who is inspecting the wrong things is not the same thing as having a safe practice where clearly thought out and understood processes govern every stage of patient and staff interaction.

Read, adopt, adapt and improve.

 You can get buy the book from Amazon here.

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