Virtually everyone who cares for hospital patients will make serious mistakes, and even commit acts of negligence, every year. For this reason, doctors are seldom outraged when the press reports yet another medical horror story. They usually have a different reaction: that could be me.

—Atul Gawande

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According to the book of Genesis, God created Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. As a result, Judeo-Christian tradition long held that men had one fewer rib than women. Despite the abundance of available evidence to the contrary, that belief survived for some fifteen hundred years, until the Flemish anatomist Andreas Vesalius, a pioneer of modern anatomy and a champion of medical dissection, finally showed otherwise.