One of the few social organizations remaining in the modern world that resembles the fiefs of the Middle Ages is the surgical service in a teaching hospital. This becomes apparent as Bosk's tale and analysis unfold in a frank and revealing account of life in a university hospital.
Charles Bosk is a sociologist who joined the teams of two surgical services in a 450-bed hospital for a sufficient time to become thoroughly acquainted with the educational, scientific, and social structure. He concentrated his attention on the issue of failure and how this is dealt with by the attending physicians, the house staff, and the nurses. Most physicians, whether they be faculty, students, or residents, are too close to the issues and are too absorbed in the technology to stand back and take an objective view of the social structure of academic medicine. Even if they did so, they might be