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Mistakes in surgery can be prevented.


by Frumious Bandersnatch, M.D.

This is a book about mistakes, true stories taken from this surgeon's lectures to residents-in-training. Each story represents an incident that really happened. Some of them are humorous, some are embarrassing, and others are tragic. All of us learn from our mistakes, and if we are smart enough, we learn from the mistakes of others.

"The best surgeon is the one who has already made all of the mistakes. Even better, let someone else make the goof and then read about it." 

For a sample story, click here.

168 pages, 94 stories
ISBN 0-937404-31-4 (1990)
hardcover $22.95



 I.     Errors in Technique

II.    Errors in Judgment

III.   Errors in Management

IV.  Errors in Diagnosis

V.   Errors in Communication

VI.  Hazards of Modern Technology

(from Surgical Blunders and How To Avoid Them)

A 41-year old woman saw her family doctor because of a persistent cough.

The doctor found nothing alarming on physical examination, but elected to have a chest x-ray done. The x-ray showed normal lungs, but the radiologist noted an apparent bone tumor in the right proximal humerus.

The patient was then referred to a major medical center for a thorough workup, including CT scan. On her initial physical examination, she was found to have a lump in her breast and it was elected to biopsy that first. The breast lump proved to be only a fibroadenoma, but the incision for the biopsy became infected, eventually resulting in an unsightly scar.

Results of the CT scan suggested that she probably had a benign cartilagenous tumor of bone, but it was believed desirable to confirm that with a biopsy. That biopsy confirmed that the tumor was, in fact a benign cartilagenous tumor that required no treatment. Unfortunately, the wound incision in the arm also became infected, and, in addition, she developed a prolonged radial nerve paresis.

Somehow, during all these therapeutic misadventures, the patient's cough spontaneously resolved. However, she was treated for two other, asymptomatic conditions, neither of which would have been discovered had she not gone to her physician with a cough. She probably would have been much better off had they not been discovered.

This case once again illustrates the point that it is very difficult to make an asymptomatic patient better, but it is very easy to make one worse.


FRUMIOUS BANDERSNATCH (not his real name) is a professor of surgery in a large teaching hospital. He has had extensive experience in nearly all fields of surgery. During this time he has had many opportunities to observe other surgeons in action. A dedicated collector of anecdotes, he has decided to make part of his collection available in this book.


"Sneaks in much information in an entertaining way." --SURGICAL RESIDENT

"I found the bloopers in this book to be wonderfully therapeutic." --SURGEON

"Like Dr. Bandersnatch, I too have never made a mistake, but I found the bloopers in his book to be wonderfully therapeutic. To laugh is to conquer." --SURGEON

"Dr. Bandersnatch must have followed me around throughout my internship surgical residency. Thank God he had the decency not to use my name!" --SURGEON

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