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

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  6,596 ratings  ·  588 reviews
A riveting exploration of the most difficult and important part of what doctors do, by Yale School of Medicine physician Dr. Lisa Sanders, author of the monthly New York Times Magazine column "Diagnosis," the inspiration for the hit Fox TV series House, M.D.

The experience of being ill can be like waking up in a foreign country. Life, as you formerly knew it, is on hold whi
Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published July 31st 2009 by Harmony (first published 2009)
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India M. Clamp
Nov 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Lisa Sanders in not only a physician (Yale School of Medicine) she is a TV Producer. In fact, she was an Emmy winning producer at “CBS News” prior to becoming a clinician/educator at Yale. She gives us an in-depth contrast to the mechanics of diagnostic medicine to how it is done “in real time” at the patient's bedside.

The physical exam and its' demise are a loss to medicine according to Sanders. Diagnosis is a true art and how to classify such to is an endeavor. From cogwheeling in Parkinson's
Jun 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
I didn't think it was possible for a book about medical problems to bore me. I now know that it's possible. Yep, Every Patient Tells a Story managed to bore me. Boredom may not be an illness, but in this review, equating the two seems appropriate. I'm not starting with a potpourri of baffling symptoms and trying to arrive at a diagnosis. I have the diagnosis: boredom -- so my task is to identify the causes.

Dr. Lisa Sanders' work reminds me of a medical file in that it's a disorganized collectio
Kristen Nace
May 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
As a medical lab tech, this book was fascinating to me. I spend my weekends working in the local hospital running diagnostic tests of all kinds. Often, I will come to know a patient ( eventhough I never see their face) through their lab resutls. I will make and view a slide of their CBC and count their different white cells. i will take note of their panic potassiums and calciums, their low hemoglobin, etc. and call these results to an er doctor and will often hear an "A-HA!" from the doctor as ...more
May 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you like the author's column in the New York Times Magazine, you will like this book. It features well-written stories of so-called "medical mysteries." My problem is this frame of the "mystery" which makes it seem like these are very tough diagnoses and so the patients are just unlucky to have these weird diseases.

Most of the time, the stories reveal diagnoses that could have been made much earlier, more safely and more cheaply if only the doctor had done something basic, like look at the c
Jul 25, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-ficiton
I was a little disappointed in this book. The author is touted writes a column that gave rise to House MD so I expected lots of interesting case histories and weird maladies! Instead the book is a lot about how diagnosis is done and a boring eulogy for what the author describes as the death of the physical exam and the lack of training in basics for doctors. For those interested in the case history type thing I recommend instead Oliver Sachs (Awakening) and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat ...more
Hasnat Sujon
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Several years ago when I was an Intern, I was chit-chatting with Dr. Sambita Chakravarty in the Pediatrics duty doctors' room. A bearded-man in a knee long panjabi with his wife peeked through the door. The wife had their son on her lap. He was Jamal. 8 years. The man had an anxious face- definitely for his son. I couldn't see the face of the wife as it was covered in a Burqa. She must be anxious. After all she was a mother.

I asked, 'what is the problem?'

Jamal had a fever for about a week. But h
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Dead on with my experience as a complicated, chronic patient, but what makes it so good to me is that it’s from the perspective of doctors who admit the faults of medicine, the diagnostic process, the tendency to blow things off if there’s not something “normal” and initial, basic tests come back normal, the lack of desire to pursue things further, and the common problem of misdiagnosing a patient simply to give them a diagnosis (thinking they should know everything) to the detriment of the pati ...more
This title is far more a memoir than it is a book that is directly focused on the subject matter of the title. And it also does not follow so much of her own autobiography path for becoming a medical doctor in any linear progressive order of time or experience level so you don't get that as a "whole" either. Instead it skips. And jumps to various chapter headings which almost randomly center on different aspects or various instruments of the patient physical examination by the medical doctor.

May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
In this book, Lisa Sanders who originally wrote a column for the New York Times Magazine looks into why it can be so difficult to diagnose what is wrong with a patient. She also looks into why a doctor can get it wrong. As someone who had to deal with a lot of nope it's not that let's do some more tests, I thought the book was fascinating. I couldn't believe how many times a diagnosis was found because someone asked a colleague to look at a chart. It was an unusual subject and I really loved get ...more
Aug 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
Dr. Sanders book highlights how physicians spend less time on initial examinations of patients and rely on test results. Examples of clues missed because of the decline of the hands on approach go on to explore the complex and difficult world of a medical diagnosis and treatment.

Interesting reading discussing the role for computers in diagnosing disease and the generally successfully tactic of calling a knowledgeable colleague to help find the answer. Lots of medical mysteries for those of you
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have avidly followed the author's columns about diagnosing tough medical cases in the New York Times Magazine for years, but I just recently became aware that she wrote a book that was published in 2009. I found it fascinating! It reminded me of the humanity of doctors. I am grateful to live in a time where it is possible to find so much medical information online (with the caveat of looking at reputable and peer reviewed sources, of course). That said, I believe the doctor has a vital role in ...more
Tukunjil Nayeera
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“A lot of the appeal of internal medicine is Sherlockian—solving the case from the clues. We are detectives; we revel in the process of figuring it all out. It’s what doctors most love to do.”

This book is a piece of Art and I can't get enough of it!
Jan 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011-2012
Oh my god this book was AMAZING. I am so grateful that Amy let me read this book. It might seem boring because it's a medical book but honestly it's not. This book is a bunch of stories about diagnosising people and how one tiny detail the others. One of the most memorable story that I read was about a girl who constantly smoked weed (marijuana) and got nausea from it. When the doctors found out it was the weed that made her feel this way they told the patient. To my surprise she got angry at th ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Aug 22, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: healing, health
I like some odd genres: Books about Books...Books about People Who Move and Start Over...Books about Cooking...and the genre this book falls into, Books about Doctors.

Don't ask me why.

Books like this one fascinate me. I'm struck by the way doctors work on people's bodies using a clever combination of science and intuition.

This is a particularly intriguing book to me as it deals with the art of diagnosis, using scientific knowledge along with experience and hunches, to figure out why things aren
Jellie Dawn
From the writer of the series House M.D, Dr. Lisa Sanders. Great read. Recommended for doctors and med students!

Update: August 7,2013

I got what I wanted and more. This book doesn't only give information but wisdom and inspiration for every medical student who wants to forge a refreshing and exciting path for himself/herself in the medical arena. Truly a book for all (and not just medical students).
Samantha N.
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was drawn to this book not only because of its genre but also because of its title. For the past 3 years, I’ve been extremely interested in anything and everything medicine related, especially the medical mysteries, the gray areas that no one has been able to figure out yet. This title caught my eye when I was browsing through a list of the best books written about medicine online. Every patient’s experience with a disease, illness, or syndrome is different. In a hospital with big ugly white w ...more
Jan 20, 2019 rated it liked it
To start off with, I love medicine but I don't love this book.

This book was recommended by a professor of mine who's doing her research on clinical reasoning. Needless to say, I dived into this book in the excitement that I would be able to enhance my clinical reasoning skill.

Instead, the further I read, the more I felt repulsed by the book. This is not the medicine I knew of. Day in day out, medical students are taught to take a thorough history and perform our physical examination properly. We
Karnish Thakkar
Jul 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
Good things :

-Acknowledgment of amazing internist Faith Fitzgerald,Dr.Joseph bell the real inspiration of Sherlock holmes for arther conan doyle(so technically house m.d. medical series was inspired by Sherlock detective series which was inspired by dr bell medical man),Giovanni Battista the anatomy guy,rené theophylline hyacinth laennec the stetho guy.
-evolution of the definition of disease (symptoms~organ dysfunction ~&then add objective observations )
-importance of autopsy & physical exam
M. Nicole Lane
Equal parts satisfying and disturbing.
A while back, I heard that a Dr Lisa Sanders was the medical consultant for one of my favorite TV shows, House. The name rang a bell because it was the same as one of my best friends from high school -- only the last I'd heard, she was a producer at CBS. Through the miracle of FaceBook, after several decades we reconnected. My Lisa had indeed had a career change and now was a physician. Twists and turns of fate had led her to write a medical column for the New York Times, which in turn led to th ...more
Mar 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book may not be what you expect it to be. As you can see by the other reviews, many readers were disappointed because it did not meet their exceptions. Perhaps it needs a different title such as "Putting Human Contact Back into Medical Practice" or "Doctors and Patients are not Machines".

I love reading the "Vital Signs" section of Discover magazine and find the cases in the TV show "House" (Sanders is the medical consultant) fascinating. However, this book is not a simple case by case study
Nov 26, 2014 rated it it was ok
As a medical scientist, and someone just generally into medical anything, this book seemed like an obvious choice. The "Every Patient Tells a Story" sounds like House, MD in a book format. SIGN ME UP! Unfortunately, uh, there are hardly any patient stories. This is one long book on the benefits of the physical exam. Sure the author throw us a bone here and there, in the form of a very brief patient case, then followed by yet another 50 pages about the physical exam and 10 more pages full of stat ...more
Nima Morgan
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A very fascinating read, great for the layman and the medical community.
Mar 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Recommended to Rebecca by: Book Group NJ- Janessa Brunt
I'm giving this book 3 1/2 stars. I loved the insights into how doctors need to connect all different dots, or put puzzle pieces together to solve the mystery of a diagnosis. (It got a little repetitive for me in the second half of the book.) But all in all, great insights!!

p.6- If she was going to figure it (the diagnosis) out, it would be because she'd find a clue that others (other doctors) had overlooked. The patient's story is often the best place to find that clue! It is our oldest diagnos
ahmad  afridi

This topic is very interesting, the art of diagnosis is the very type of detective work, where a physician is a detective and his area of investigation is patients' body and the stories they tell you. the physician has a map of the human body in his mind, knows how different organs work, and how are they linked with each other, how a rich interplay of different molecules constitutes a living human, how disorders in any of its components manifest itself via signs and symptoms. The physician then

Kiwi Carlisle
Aug 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
I wanted to read this book because I had occasionally read and enjoyed Dr. Sanders’ columns in the New York Times Magazine. On starting it, I was pleased to see her heavy emphasis on the importance of the physical exam to the art and science of diagnosis.

I’ve been a standardized patient for about 15 years in a program that teaches physical examination and history taking to medical students. Thus, I was quite startled by Dr. Sanders’ assertion that these skills aren’t being taught anymore. ORLY,
Sanders has a very clear and interesting tone to her writings. As she takes you through the diagnosis' that have perplexed doctors, she is able to write in such a way that causes the reader to experience the mental processes that go on in the mind of a doctor. This was an exciting and interesting read for me. I look forward to reading her other works. ...more
Mar 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Thought provoking and from a physician's perspective. This book has aspects of it that help encourage patients to ask more questions and look for answers with their provider. We need more books that inspire patients to probe further than the initial diagnosis. ...more
Marilyn F
Jul 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Maybe a little over 3, but would have liked more of the solving of the medical mysteries and not quite so much waxing on what is right/wrong with the medical profession and its practice in the U.S.
Jul 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: medicine
Stick to medicine, Dr Sanders!! Be an excellent diagnostician and don't forget the priceless skill of a proper fiZ exam ...more
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Lisa Sanders, M.D., is an internist on the faculty of the Yale University School of Medicine. She writes the monthly column Diagnosis for The New York Times Magazine, is the author of Every Patient Tells a Story: Medical Mysteries and the Art of Diagnosis, and served as a technical advisor on Fox TV's House, M.D. She lives in New Haven, Connecticut. ...more

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