Views & Reviews Review of the week

Blade runners

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 06 September 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:515
  1. Harold Ellis, emeritus professor of surgery, King's College London

    A new textbook on surgical complications is a timely aid for modern surgeons faced with multiple risk factors, Harold Ellis finds

    How do you judge a good surgeon? Certainly not by appearance. The only person at Westminster Hospital when I was there who looked like a surgeon—tall, distinguished, beautifully dressed, hair just greying at the sides, long tapering fingers—was the hospital barber. What you must take into account is diagnostic skill, ability to communicate, empathy with patients, research ability, and, of course, technical skill in the operating theatre. Don't judge a surgeon by mortality figures: the better the surgeon, the stickier the patients referred to him or her. Overly cautious surgeons may never lose a patient, but a lot of “bad” patients might be denied the chance of relief through surgery.

    Also important, but difficult to quantify, is …

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