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3.0 out of 5 starsDisappointing
Reviewed in the United States on September 25, 2019
I had read 'Every Patient Tells a Story' and loved it so much that I distributed some copies to my friends. Having watched House, M.D., where the diagnosis is made when the patient is almost dying, I found these case histories are not much different. All are rare ailments which are not outright thought by the doctors. True, but in almost all cases, the patient s have been seen by a handful of different specialists, subjected to too many harmful investigations, before the diagnosis is made. Doesn't reflect competency of our physicians history taking and clinical skills. I was especially upset when a 94 year old lady with a history of vomitting, having one kidney removed, who was obviously dehydrated but her sodium was low was subjected to a highly dangerous procedure of contrast dye CT abdomen. She also had history of hypertension. Age, a single kidney, hypertension were all great risk factors for throwing her into contrast dye nephropathy. Why do so when serum sodium was already found low. The book could have been more interesting if Lisa Sanders also included patients coming in with common diseases with uncommon presentation. I am getting a gut feeling that the author was pushed by the publisher to write another book as fast as she could.
I had found a link to Every Patient Tells A Story, and ordrered that and this at the same time. The first book flowed more like a story than a series of essays, and while the emphasis on a particular diagnostic tool became repetitive, it wasn't completely unreasonable. This, however, seems to be simply reprints of the author's periodic newspaper columns with no additional information or writing. It also includes one of the stories in the earlier book, seemingly verbatim. (I didn't do a side-by-side comparison.) I enjoyed the first book. This one was disappointing by contrast.
Reviewed in the United States on September 12, 2019
This book is a collection of the Diagnosis columns that have appeared in the New York Times for many years, and the book was issued to go along with the new TV series of the same name, based on the true stories of patients who perplexed their doctors. It's organized by symptom: fever, stomach ache, sore throat, headache...things that everyone experiences sooner or later. But in these columns, the diagnosis is never quite what you expect. Something that looks, sounds, and feels like flu turns out to be something else entirely. It's fascinating to read about the pathways doctors and patients take to define the cause of the illness. My favorite is when a diagnosis was achieved after a patient's son made an off-hand joke. If you are interested in medical case histories and the odd ailments that afflict people, you will enjoy this very much.
I’ve been a fan of Dr Sanders’ Diagnosis columns in the New York Times where she tackles medical mysteries and seeks out the wisdom of the crowd (AKA crowd-sourcing). There is a similar column in the Washington Post called “Medical Mysteries” which similarly discusses those cases that doctors call zebras (from the dictum that if you hear hoof beats behind you think a horse and not the more unusual zebra) and on occasion, also does a crowd-source.
But back to Dr Sanders book. Besides the writing, what I most enjoyed about the book that each patient’s story was short and to the point, not a lot of meaningless fluff. And the book also made a nice companion to the (late 2019) series on Netflix series “Diagnosis.”
I enjoyed this book just as much as I enjoyed her previous book (not reviewed since it was a hardcover and I read it long ago — probably worth a re-read), Every Patient Tells a Story: Medical Mysteries and the Art of Diagnosis. She was a medical consultant for the late great TV show House and, as I recall, when I read that book, I was rather reminded of House as I was reading the book.
The bottom line is, if you love medical mysteries as I do, especially zebras and other exotic disease presentations, then this is definitely the book for you.
I gave it five enthusiastic stars and really can’t wait to re-read it.
3.0 out of 5 starsHypokalemic Periodic Paralysis is autosomal dominant, and both sexes are affected equally
Reviewed in the United States on October 26, 2019
Excellent book with one mistake. In the chapter "Total Collapse" she discusses Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis and says "young men (mostly) are born....) with it. This is incorrect as it is an autosomal dominant mutation - meaning only one parent need pass the gene variation. Each child has a 50/50 chance of being born with the genetic variation or mutation. The problem is that it is rare. So when it is diagnosed it is common that young men are diagnosed, as often young women are dismissed as "crazy" or that it is hormonal.
Reviewed in the United States on September 19, 2019
I'm not a fan of short stories which might be why I prefer the TV show of the same name to the book. The book is a series of very short vignettes with quick solutions. The cases are very interesting and it's well written, but it doesn't have the depth of the series and doesn't really show the difficulty of finding a diagnosis.
Reviewed in the United States on December 17, 2020
Doctors-in-training are sometimes told to figuratively "assume horses when hearing hoof beats." Unfortunately, however, some doctors have trouble getting *much past* 'horses' as diagnoses.
This book discusses cases and diagnoses that are, statistically, on the tails of the normal probability distribution and often get missed, causing patients to visit doctor after doctor before ultimately getting appropriate treatment. I appreciate the efforts of the doctors described in this book to "think outside the box" and come up with the correct diagnoses: 'zebras'.
5.0 out of 5 starsFun, interesting, non-fiction educational book. It’s like reading a mystery novel.
Reviewed in the United States on November 9, 2019
Great book. Each individual story is a medical mystery. It’s fun to read along and see if you can figure out what’s wrong before you get to the end and she gives you the results. I don’t have any medical training, but I love Dr. Sanders books and columns. She is a fantastic writer who writes for the lay person.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 20, 2019
I did not finish this book. I found it very hard to stay focused on it. Somw people would love this find of thing but I just found it to be repeating itself with each patient story and nothing really to exciting or much drama through it