Thursday, January 7, 2010


by Lisa Sanders, M.D.

This is medical Sherlock Holmes that presents stories of real medical cases handled by different doctors. Dr Lisa Sanders has been the columnist of 'Diagnosis' in the the New York Times Magazine, which had also been the inspiration behind the TV drama 'House'.

Interestingly, her first career was in broadcast, mainly TV news covering medicine. But one day, while shooting a stand-upper [broadcast term for where one speaks facing the camera] with a doctor and having filming interrupted when he left the camera to save an elderly woman, the epiphany hit her that while broadcast reached millions but touches few, medicine reaches few but transforms the lives of those it touches. Then, she went to medical school.

Unlike 'House' style, Dr Sanders takes us, through the stories of the book, back to the lost art of physical examinations and listening to the patient.

'One of the most important and powerful tools a doctor has lies in her ability to give a patient's story back to the patient, in a form that will allow him to understand what his illness is and what it means. Done successfully, this gift helps the patient incorporate that knowledge into the larger story of his life. through understanding, the patient can regain some control over his affliction. If he cannot control the disease, he can at least have some control over this response to the disease. A story that can help a patient make sense of even a devastating illness is a story that can heal.'

I'm only at chapter three [and on the way to purchase the book], but already find that the author puts the heart of compassion back into medicine. Attending to the patient garners back its role in present day realities of handling patients.

Written in a style for anybody, with stories that will captivate anybody - physician or patient.

Where you can get it: S$44.04 Kinokuniya; National Library ISBN:9780767922463
Level of impact: Better than the show 'House'
Timing of book: Great holiday read, at-home read, or if you need to prepare something interesting in case you run out of things to talk about at a party. Every chapter illustrates a different story.