Every Patient Tells a Story: Medical Mysteries and the Art of Diagnosis, Essay Example

In “Every Patient Tells a Story: Medical Mysteries and the Art of Diagnosis,” the stories are cases that internists and practicing physicians should read. It might be a good idea if every doctor read them. The right diagnosis is the most critical component to a patient’s hope for recovery. Many believe more lives can be saved, if doctors and nurses take the time to actually think and hypothesize more and try to understand symptoms on a deeper level, so that they can connect the dots and figure out the puzzles of illnesses and conditions. As stated in the book, diagnosing is often a process rather than a single event. Even though, there are plenty of times when symptoms and subsequent testing yields a definitive and straightforward diagnosis. Other times, a patient presents with symptoms that are misleading, because any number of conditions or diseases can cause all the same symptoms. Or, perhaps, a patient’s tests come back inconclusive. These are times when a doctor’s creative thinking skills come into play, and they are charged with figuring out where are the pieces to the the puzzle, and then he or she must put them together to see the whole picture.

In the case of the patient, Crystal, many may feel a sense of connection after reading the story, because there are times when people act on hunches and the hunches turn out to be right, just as with the case of Dr. Walerstein. However, this was after extensive tests and treatments did not yield a complete and satisfactory diagnosis.

The patient presented with a myriad of symptoms such as jaundice, fever, rapid but faint pulse, kidney disfunction, and other symptoms. However, the most telling of the symptoms were liver failure and copper in her blood. These symptoms are what led Dr. Walerstein to unlock the mystery to her diagnosis of Wilson’s Disease.

In response to the way this book illustrates how Dr. Walerstein went beyond due diligence to save a young girl’s life is that of fascination. It was interesting to read on and see how Crystal’s diagnosis unraveled, while her symptoms were spiraling out of control. It shows how when one thing goes wrong in the body, it can set off a chain of medical events in the body.

It is quite interesting that the author of this book, Lisa Sanders, served as a technical advisor for the hit medical series House, which was inspired by a medical column she wrote for the New York Times Magazine for over six years. This same column also inspired the book. Her column gave accounts about many astounding diagnostic histories and stories. These stories show how complex medicine and the human body really is, and serve as measures for future medical research and study. In addition, It is particularly interesting that she conveys the messages in the stories so that the reader can step into the doctor’s shoes and follow along with the mind of the doctor.

Additionally, the overall reaction to this book is that of complete respect for those who work in the medical field. As shown in the book, doctors often have the fate of a patient’s life in their hands, and when they struggle to find answers, they are affected in ways that only coming up with an accurate diagnosis can give them relief.


Sanders, L. (2010). Every Patient Tells a Story: Medical Mysteries and the Art of Diagnosis (Reprint ed.). Three Rivers Press.