Every Patient Tells a Story: Medical Mysteries and the Art of Diagnosis

by Lisa Sanders, M.D.
Reviewed date: 2013 Jan 21
255 pages
cover art

Drawing on stories about complex diagnoses, Sanders explains how doctors make--or fail to make--a diagnosis. The correct diagnosis is necessary for the correct treatment, and yet it's often difficult or impossible.

I was hoping this book would be more like her column--a lot of medical mystery cases, with neat explanations about how an insightful doctor made the diagnosis. There is some of that. But mostly, those stories are used to illustrate concepts about how a diagnosis is made. For example, several cases hinge on the fact that doctors failed to make accurate and detailed physical examinations of the patient. Too much reliance on tests and technology means the physical exam is a dying art.

The book left me impressed with how much depends on the right doctor looking at the right information. And that doesn't even mean the best doctor--often it's just a doctor who happens to have seen that condition before, or happened to have read about it, or is willing (and has the time) to do research.

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