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Every Patient Tells a Story Hardcover – August 11, 2009
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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Sanders approaches these issues from a very personal standpoint, relating in individual case studies the thoughts and emotions of both the doctors and the patients, even stories from her own personal arsenal. But most importantly, she does a stellar job at pointing out how modern medicine is a game of statistics, and some people are bound to fall on the wrong side of the coin flip. Even with a slough of biochemical and imaging tests and studies, we simply do not know everything.
The value of this book lies in the questions it asks of both the medical profession and future patients. To the profession, it asks what might be done to not only improve diagnostic tests and techniques but also how to communicate medicine's limitations to the public. And to the patient, it asks for patience in a profession that is still young and going through growing pains, but to also trust physicians in their abilities.
My one negative comment concerns the last section of the book that discusses Lyme Disease. Dr. Sanders obviously has a significant agenda and treats this section greatly different than the former. She begins with a personal story but spends several chapters on the history and development of Lyme Disease and the controversial "chronic Lyme" diagnosis. While entirely interesting from a historical perspective, it lies beyond the intended scope of the book and carries the character of a major soapbox rather than an exposition on diagnosis. It would have been better (in my opinion) to have devoted these pages to multiple controversial diagnoses, comparing ones that have been refuted (like hysteria) to ones that have been confirmed (like the carcinogenic effects of tobacco).
Nevertheless, this book should be read by anyone who might be a patient or medical professional one day--which would be everyone. Nobody is perfect, and Dr. Sanders points out that medicine is no different. However, the implication is that we all want to be--and can be--better. It just takes a little work.
Throughout my years in other positions, I would fondly remember this physician. Sadly, medicine has changed. As Dr. Sanders writes and advises that we must, as patients, take responsibility for our health care and partner with our physician to ensure good outcomes when possible. I get very aggravated when I hear about providers who examine patients totally clothed—it’s not a physical examination! So much can be missed.
I urge you to read Dr. Sanders’ book. It is an eye opener written with grace and compassion. Thank you Dr. Sanders for making a difference.
Note that every style has an audience. For me this style was great. The stories spanned large sections of the book and moves in and out of story and back-story and side-story seamlessly. However, some people may find that difficult to keep up or too much story per page or a bit drawn out. I recommend you read a sample of this book to see if the writting style fits you. If it does, you're in for a treat.
Review of hard-copy not kindle nor audio. You'll find your experiences slightly different.