Book Review: The Checklist Manifesto By Dr. Atul Gawande

Man is fallible, but maybe men are less so.

Dr. Atul Gawande

Title: The Checklist Manifesto
Author: Atul Gawande
Publisher: Picador imprint of Macmillan Publishing
ASIN: B0030V0PEW

Dr. Atul Gawande is an American surgeon, writer, and public health researcher. He practices general and endocrine surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. He is a professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Samuel O. Thier Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School. He has written extensively on medicine and public health for The New Yorker and Slate, and is the author of the books Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science; Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance; The Checklist Manifesto; and Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End.

The premise of the book is checklists (as you can glean from the title of the book). The book begins with an anecdote about a friend of Dr. Gawande, who is also a surgeon. He writes about the complexities of medicine and surgery, using it as the foundation to introduce checklists and its uses. The author has you hooked and interested since the very beginning. He continually keeps narrating real-life incidents to portray and elaborate the applications for a checklist.

He has evaluated the utilization of checklists across multiple industries, including construction and airlines. Dr. Gawande introduces us to two different kinds of checklists- DO-CONFIRM and READ-DO. He also writes about “killer-items”- steps that are most dangerous to be skip, however, do sometimes get overlooked. I especially admire the author’s ability to allow the reader to connect with his concepts by narrating both positive and negative events related to his core concept. His description was so powerful that I could visualize me in those situations. I lived his apprehension when he recommended checklists to the WHO, his concern when his patients weren’t doing well, and most of all, his determination, to make the checklists a success.

I strongly agree with Dr. Gawande when he says that checklists buttress the expertise of professionals. It allows you to stop focusing on the routines, allowing you to think about more complicated topics. I will give the book 4/5 stars. I strongly recommend this to anyone who is a planner and appreciates tools that increase one’s efficiency and productivity.

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