Diagnosis: Dispatches from the Frontlines of Medical Mysteries by Lisa Sanders
|Diagnosis: Dispatches from the Frontlines of Medical Mysteries by Lisa Sanders|
|Category: Popular Science|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: If you like hospital dramas on TV then you will love this book - but you may never quite trust your doctor in the same way again.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: June 2010|
|Publisher: Icon Books Ltd|
Fans of House, M.D. may recognise the name of Lisa Sanders. She’s the technical advisor to the TV show as well as being the writer of the Diagnosis column in the New York Times. Many of the stories which appear in the column are recounted in this book, which is a look at the way in which doctors reach a diagnosis and how the method has changed (or not) over the years. I’m not a fan of the hospital dramas which seem to be a major feature of the TV schedules, but I was fascinated by what is, essentially, a series of medical detective stories.
It’s easy to think that if you go long to see your doctor you should be able to depart with a diagnosis of what’s wrong and a plan for the cure, or, at worst, management of the problem. Developments in medicine such as x-rays and blood analysis have supported this view but an ever-expanding range of illnesses and diseases have made the task of diagnosis ever more complicated, as has wider travel by the patient. Ultimately, too, the diagnosis has to be made by a human being – with all their ensuing limitations. It’s simply not possible for one human to have encountered all the diseases, with their variable presentations, which might appear before them.
Sanders is critical of the decline of the physical examination, with many doctors either bypassing this altogether or examining the patient through their clothes and relying instead on the results which technology can provide. In fairness this is not because of laziness but rather because of time pressures – and because technology will provide the answers most of the time. I did feel that doctors were in a cleft stick – the cases detailed here were unusual and most appeared to have a reasonably simple answer when they first presented. A busy doctor can surely be forgiven for not doing a full physical examination in those circumstances. The fact that occasionally fairly obvious points were missed further down the line is less-easily defended.
It was something of a relief to me that most of the diseases that were tracked down were more prevalent in the USA as this saved me the problem of wondering whether I might have Rocky Mountain spotted fever, but the point of the book is not the various diseases, but the diagnostic methods used. The problem that I do have is that the next time I go to the doctor I will be watching his diagnostic process very closely…
I’d like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
If this book appeals to you then you might also enjoy Direct Red by Gabriel Weston.
You can read more book reviews or buy Diagnosis: Dispatches from the Frontlines of Medical Mysteries by Lisa Sanders at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Diagnosis: Dispatches from the Frontlines of Medical Mysteries by Lisa Sanders at Amazon.com.
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