Monday, January 28, 2013

Review: True Medical Detective Stories by Clifton K. Meador

pneumonia is kind of pretty! via
Reviewed by Christina
(I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.)

Published: 2012

It's about: This a collection of (you guessed it!) True Medical Detective Stories.  They are compiled and told by Dr. Meador, a physician and author with over fifty years of experience practicing and teaching medicine.  In this most recent book, he shares nineteen perplexing cases in which some one- a doctor, researcher, nurse, or family member- seizes upon an unusual or unexpected diagnosis.  In one chapter, a woman has unexplained paralysis associated with pregnancy.  In another, a young man frequently visits the E.R., healthy except for a fever and some air under his skin. (?!)  You get the idea.

I thought:  I love medical mysteries, and so I tore through this collection in one quick evening of reading.  Dr. Meador is a good writer: straightforward, clear and very concise, never condescending toward layperson readers.  There's really no extra jibber-jabber in this collection, which is probably why I read it so fast.  Meador describes and solves each case very quickly, providing only the minimum, most necessary information.  My only real complaint is that I wanted so much more: more information about the patients, the diseases, the treatments.  I wanted a little more flair in the storytelling- some red herrings, maybe, or even just more physical description of the settings, the people.  I wish each story had just been fleshed out a little more.

The cases themselves are great.  Some are bizarre, some are sad, all are fascinating.  And Dr. Meador has some nicely-woven recurring themes: the importance of taking a thorough patient history, the power our minds can wield over our bodies, the idea that the doctor isn't always the best detective in the room.  If you like medical mystery shows like House, M.D., Bones, and Doc Martin, you should definitely pick up True Medical Detective Stories and spend a pleasant hour with Dr. Meador's stories.  (By the way, I'm pretty sure the first episode of Doc Martin is based off the "Dr. Jim's Breasts" case, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1980.)

Verdict: Stick it on the shelf.

Warnings:  I don't know, some anatomy and stuff.  It's medical, not sexy.

What I'm reading next:  I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Joanne Greenberg