Being a Surgeon: The Ten Commandments
by Asad J. Raja
Trafford Publishing

"...all my compassion, altruism, empathy and dreams of being a healer were being systematically beaten out of me."

Raja's book appeals to the moral compass of surgeons and surgical residents, begging them to be mindful of the holistic approach that precedes ethical decisions, rather than the mechanical approach to surgery that can shade the lines of sound, compassionate medical judgment. If a surgeon can't find time to read the entire text, perhaps just the titles of each section would be better than nothing: “Part I -Wisdom Begins in Wonder,” “Part II-Education is not preparation for life,” “Education is life itself,” “A Living Problem is Better Than a Dead Solution,” etc. Maybe a more telltale title overall would be, “Being a Surgeon While Staying Human."

Raja compellingly shares anecdotes of pivotal moments in his surgical training and practice. He describes being offered kickbacks to exclusively use a certain company's product in his surgeries. "He said that his agency was the sole local distributor...then he threw on the table some visiting cards of the leading surgeons with whom they had negotiated deals." Raja is incredulous when he witnesses less than the highest standards of ethics. "They decided that because it was a dirty and exposed wound...any graft repair would get infected. Therefore, they suggested a hip disarticulating amputation. I felt the decision was insane...'Is there any harm in trying? Amputation will always be an option.'" Raja was then reported for challenging the decision and being disrespectful to the more senior surgeons.

This book is an eye-opening read for anyone. Physicians will assuredly find the book useful, but other readers will also find it fascinating and well-written. Raja is clear and concise in his writing and expounds on numerous critical issues. But one of the chapter titles, "Never Be Cavalier With Someone Else's Life," pretty well sums up what the world-class, esteemed surgeon, ethicist, and author wants to drive home to every practitioner.

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