Every Patient Tells a Story

  • by Lisa Sanders
  • Narrated by Lisa Sanders
  • 10 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A riveting exploration of the most difficult and important part of what doctors do, by Yale School of Medicine physician Dr. Lisa Sanders. Sanders is the author of the monthly New York Times Magazinecolumn "Diagnosis" - the inspiration for the hit Fox TV series House."The experience of being ill can be like waking up in a foreign country. Life, as you formerly knew it, is on hold while you travel through this other world as unknown as it is unexpected. When I see patients in the hospital or in my office who are suddenly, surprisingly ill, what they really want to know is, 'What is wrong with me?' They want a road map that will help them manage their new surroundings. The ability to give this unnerving and unfamiliar place a name, to know it, on some level, restores a measure of control, independent of whether or not that diagnosis comes attached to a cure. Because, even today, a diagnosis is frequently all a good doctor has to offer."A healthy young man suddenly loses his memory, making him unable to remember the events of each passing hour. Two patients diagnosed with Lyme disease improve after antibiotic treatment, only to have their symptoms mysteriously return. A young woman lies dying in the ICU - bleeding, jaundiced, incoherent - and none of her doctors know what is killing her. In Every Patient Tells a Story, Dr. Lisa Sanders takes us bedside to witness the process of solving these and other diagnostic dilemmas, providing a firsthand account of the expertise and intuition that lead a doctor to make the right diagnosis.

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What the Critics Say

"Readers who enjoy dramatic stories of doctors fighting disease will get their fill, and they will also encounter thoughtful essays on how doctors think and go about their work, and how they might do it better." (Publishers Weekly)
"Besides her own inborn capacity for problem-solving, Sanders' experience as internist, writer, and consultant to House serves her well here, for absorbing anecdotes generously pepper the exposition." (Booklist)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Interesting & Helpful

What did you like most about Every Patient Tells a Story?

I liked the in depth details of different diagnoses.


What was one of the most memorable moments of Every Patient Tells a Story?

Every case educated me.


Did Lisa Sanders do a good job differentiating each of the characters? How?

I don't find this is the kind of book where giving different people characters is necessary.


Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I found all the cases moving


Any additional comments?

The book is very intense and I think that it will benefit people working in nursing or the like most.

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- jane joensen

How to be a doctor.

Having retired from the practice of medicine a year or so ago, the subject of this book is naturally of more than passing interest to me. The author was a journalist who was so attracted by medicine that she quit her job and trained to be a doctor. An impressive feat, and providing her with a mature view of medicine and the tools to express it in easily read prose.



I understand that much of the book derives from her newspaper column, and that this column was part of the inspiration for the TV series 'House.' The principal point she makes in the book is that medicine has departed from the personal professional model which prevailed until the 1960s and has become a technical scientific process which all too often concentrates more on the patient's test results while ignoring the patient.



Well this is something which I have felt throughout my medical career. Indeed I remember a joke which was current in my undergraduate days about American ward rounds. It was said that the ward round would take place in a room off the ward where the patient's biochemical, haematological and pathological test results were presented and discussed. If at the end of this process no firm conclusion on the diagnosis or management of the case could be reached the senior clinician would say, 'Well all the tests are inconclusive, I suppose we'd better go and see the patient.'



I am happy to say that in my day we could see the error in this approach. A famous Canadian Physician, Sir William Osler (1849-1919) was the founder of patient centred medicine, and famously said, 'Listen to your patient, he is telling you the diagnosis.' This was true then and remains so. This book is a valuable reminder of this.



The author narrates it herself, and I find her delivery a little wearing. That may just be me, she is a well-respected broadcaster in her own country. I find the points made in the book somewhat repetitive, and I think it would have benefited from a little more aggressive editing.
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- Chris Rayner

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-08-2009
  • Publisher: Random House Audio