HOW MEDICAL INNOVATIONS ARE ADOPTED. Atul Gawande has an article in the New Yorker (July 29) that explores how medical innovations are adopted by doctors and nurses. He begins with the adoptions of anesthesia and antisepsis, both of which were tremendously important discoveries. His premise is that it is always difficult to get doctors and nurses to change long-established ways of doing things. Anesthesia was adopted by almost every hospital in America within seven years. However, it took a generation before Lister’s recommendations for excluding germs became routine. Gawande attributes the comparatively rapid adoption of anesthesia to the fact that the reduction in pain for surgical patients was immediately apparent. Antisepsis operated by eliminating invisible germs. A second reason Gawande gives for the difference in the speed of adoption of anesthesia and antisepsis is that “only one made life better for the doctors.”

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  1. Carl Davidson says:

    Atul Gawande was interviewed by Charlie Rose on the August 5 program. He discussed, among other things, the items in your posting. He’s a fascinating person with an unbelievable set of values, e.g. while Obama has referred to him they’ve never met. Gawande favors Obamacare and has been invited to the White House several times but usually with a week’s notice and he wouldn’t cancel a scheduled surgery to go the the White House! One can catch the whole 15-20 minute interview on

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