EVERY PATIENT TELLS A STORY: MEDICAL MYSTERIES AND THE ART OF DIAGNOSIS
Dr. Lisa Sanders, Broadway Books (2010), £9.76
Reviewed by Riya Kosta
Lisa Sanders’ memoir is every avid reader’s portal into medical mysteries. It acquaints future doctors with some of the necessary elements that will aid them to fulfil their highest clinical potential and unfurls brain-teasing responses to treatment and atypical diagnosis. It is truly an intriguing compilation of medical mysteries that is indeed a masterpiece.
The book is written in such a manner that lets its readers experience every moment (certainly better than a virtual reality tour!). Each chapter unravels a complicated diagnosis and gives a key to its readers that unlocks secrets which can bestow the world with better doctors. The book not only focuses on the stories of patients dealing rare diseases, but reveals Sanders’ methodology and approach towards building an accurate diagnosis. The book has also raised the importance of physical examination, shedding light on the fact that the increasing use of technology has condemned physical examination to a less important tool among young doctors. She elaborates that physical examinations are shortcuts to the diagnosis. To quote a line that really struck me as a reader, “the body is there filled with so much, so much to tell you. But if you do not speak the language, you will be deaf to its secrets.”
She also highlights the necessity of understanding patients’ pain. Through her memories, Sanders acquaints the reader with the healing power of touch with a mesmerising story. The book is so immaculately written that it actually teleports its reader into a scenario, giving a deeper insight into all that is happening.
To quote a line that really struck me as a reader, “the body is there filled with so much, so much to tell you. But if you do not speak the language, you will be deaf to its secrets.”
Sander tends to focus upon the mistakes residents tend to make during the initial years of their practice. She puts forward the idea that when sympathy overpowers empathy in that emotional tug of war in a doctor's mind, even the simplest diagnosis becomes a puzzle. Yet the hustle and bustle of the emergency room is also brought to life in her stories. She describes some of peculiar diseases like West Nile virus, Wilson’s disease, Lyme disease, and the psychiatric symptoms caused by Jimmson’s weed, which many clinicians will not meet in their practice.
All in all, the book is packed with thoughts that could change our approach to diagnosis.