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Diagnosis: Dispatches from the Frontlines of Medical Mysteries Hardcover – 20 Aug 2009


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Icon Books Ltd (20 Aug 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848310722
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848310728
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 2.9 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 479,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

`If you need to be reminded that there are still diseases that can't be cured in an hour - including commercial breaks - then this book is for you. Fantastic stuff.'
HUGH LAURIE, STAR OF HOUSE, M.D.
-- Advance review on the book jacket

[A] wonderful read: thoughtful and gripping, more real and more interesting than House. -- New Scientist, 11th October, 2009

About the Author

Dr Lisa Sanders is on the faculty of Yale University School of Medicine. Her widely read Diagnosis column appears monthly in the New York Times Magazine. She serves as a technical advisor for hose M.D. Before entering medical school, Dr. Sanders was an Emmy Award winning producer for CBS News, where she covered health and medicine.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Arheddis Varkenjaab TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 14 Oct 2009
Format: Hardcover
A engrossing read this one, and not one just for medical professionals. Detailing the thought processes and techniques of diagnosing peculiar or unusal symptoms, this is a good book for learning how to work through problems in your working life. Basically: never assume, never assume you're not making assumptions, check and check again, trust your instincts, and the basics are there for a reason. And then if all else fails use google!

There are a few surprising revelations here: working as I do as an Engineer, where checklists and standard work procedures are indispensable (and also save lives - leaving a spanner in a jet engine makes a bit of mess), I was astounded to read that surgical procedures are planned and executed with no checks. Surgical instruments are 'uncontrolled', and the reluctance and arrogance on the part of surgeons was also a surprise to me too, with one surgeon saying "these are a surgeon's hands, not a typist's" when asked to use a computer-based diagnosis tool.There are lessons here for my own profession too - the use of lectures in techniques for finding a diagnoses, and seminars where doctors were informally challenged to diagnose a particular set of symptoms sounded a lot of fun. I found the tendency for doctors to leap straight for the high-tech solution instead of old-fashioned physical examinations very revealing - when you've got a hammer every problem looks like a nail.

Very nicely written, the author has managed to convey complicated medical terminology into layman's language, with a minimum of jargon, this is a fascinating glimpse 'behind-the-scenes' of medical professionalism.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By E. L. Wisty TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 9 Oct 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Lisa Sanders was a journalist before becoming a doctor, and has a real gift for crafting a story. Based around many unusual case histories, she examines how doctors make their diagnoses and analyses many of the difficulties and deficiencies in this process.

It's perhaps easy to become a little despondent in realising the limits of doctors' knowledge; on the other hand it's pleasing to know that (in the US at least, and hopefully the UK will follow) many of the issues with the methods of the doctors themselves are being addressed in their training. So for example, too often the medics have been relying on The Machine That Goes 'Ping', and not relying enough on their own senses, seeing, listening, touching. And we've all had the experience in the GP's surgery of not really being listened to and being interrupted before we've had our say. A survey quoted in the book found that it was an average of 16 seconds before being interrupted, and in the worst case the patient only spoke for 3 seconds before the GP barged in.

This is compulsive reading for everyone, for medics to help take a good look at themselves and also for the rest of us who may be one of these patients defying diagnosis one day.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By RozziD VINE VOICE on 27 Nov 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When I got this book, I was expecting to be unable to put it down as I love medical 'puzzle' books and thought that this would have more medical mysteries in it. That's not to say that it doesn't have its good points, but it wasn't quite what I thought it would be.

It's more of a descriptive book about the process of making a diagnosis rather than the actual solving of a complicated set of symptoms and while it is very well written, it didn't keep me hooked.

The author is obviously a very passionate doctor who cares deeply about her patients but I found some of the chapters really quite hard going and almost meaningless to the non-medical reader. I imagine that someone with more of a medical background or more basic medical knowledge than me would probably appreciate this book more than I did. All my medical knowledge comes from dramas like House and Casualty and something along the lines of these is more what I was hoping for.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Cat Mac VINE VOICE on 3 Nov 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Be it CSI, Prime Suspect or Holby City, the average television viewer has a little bit of an obsession with the 'whodunnit'. It almost seems to be human nature to have that quest for the solution to a problem or a riddle, and to bring it to a conclusion. In the world of TV we usually manage to do all this within an hour, but in real life we accept that these things take a lot longer.

Lisa Sanders is a Doctor who is also a technical advisor on the TV show 'House', and her book centres on the real life medical mysteries that are rarely solved within an hour, and aren't always resolved with a happy ending. Whilst this book is absorbing for anyone with any kind of medical interest, it also has a couple of side effects. First, it will instantaneously turn you into a hypochondriac (I was imagining I had a rare blood disease at one point after reading the symptoms!), secondly you will never trust your Doctor's first opinion ever again, and thirdly you will be able to recite the primary symptoms of Lyme disease off by heart.

Sanders does seem to focus in on Lyme disease as a handy example on several occasions, which I suppose makes sense as it is endemic to a certain part of the US, but you find yourself looking for a new example - we want the gory details afterall. She also laments the loss of the physical exam to such an extent that you start to get really, really concerned about what Doctors are actually doing when they make diagnoses - are they in fact just waiting for a computer to tell them the answer?

It's not happy reading, by any stretch, but it is very interesting to see how real life doctors have put the pieces together in some extraordinary cases. It also enlightens the reader, so next time you go to the Doctors if they take out that stethoscope and don't put it direct to skin you know they're not doing it properly!
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