The Reith Lecture Series on Radio 4 by Atul Gawande

In his lecture series entitled 'The Future of Medicine', Dr Atul Gawande examines the nature of progress and failure in medicine.

Update: Dr Atul Gawande’s examined how we care for patients who are very ill and may be dying in his third lecture, The Problem of Hubris, which aired on the 9th of December. Atul is an American surgeon, an author, a previous staff writer on the New Yorker and is a wonderful communicator. Listen to Dr Atul Gawande – The Problem of Hubris on iPlayer ».

The first lecture on 25.11.14 was entitled  Why do Doctors Fail? and explored the nature of imperfection in medicine. In particular, Gawande will examine how much of failure in medicine remains due to ignorance (lack of knowledge) and how much is due to ineptitude (failure to use existing knowledge) and what that means for where medical progress will come from in the future.

The second lecture, The Century of the System, Gawande will focus on the impact that the development of systems has had – and should have in the future – on medicine and overcoming failures of ineptitude. He will dissect systems of all kinds, from simple checklists to complex mechanisms of many parts. And he will argue for how they can be better designed to transform care from the richest parts of the world to the poorest.

The third lecture, The Problem of Hubris, will examine the great unfixable problems in life and healthcare – aging and death. Gawande will argue that the reluctance of society and medical institutions to recognise the limits of what professionals can do is producing widespread suffering. But research is revealing how this can change.

The fourth and final lecture, The Idea of Wellbeing, will argue that medicine must shift from a focus on health and survival to a focus on wellbeing – on protecting, insofar as possible, people’s abilities to pursue their highest priorities in life. And, as he will suggest from the story of his father’s life and death from cancer, those priorities are nearly always more complex than simply to live longer.

Listen to the The Reith Lectures on iPlayer