Modern technology has given rise to electronic medical records, remote monitoring systems, and satellite-enabled real-time examinations in which patient and physician might be separated by thousands of miles. Yet, when it comes to diagnosing difficult cases, the clinician’s strongest asset might just be one of the oldest tools of the medical profession—careful listening. True Medical Detective Stories is a fascinating compendium of nineteen true-life medical cases, each solved by clinical deduction and facilitated by careful listening. These accounts present puzzling low-tech cases—most of them serious, some humorous—that were solved either at the bedside or by epidemiological studies. Dr. Clifton Meador’s book is a wonderful contribution to the genre of medical detective stories mastered by the legendary Berton Roueché. As a staff writer at The New Yorker from 1944 until his death fifty years later, Roueché popularized this form, which has provided source material for feature films and most recently supplied scenarios featured in medical television dramas, such as House. While Hollywood frequently oversimplifies and elides the real clinical situations, True Medical Detective Stories sets the record straight with a voice of authority and an engaging style rooted in the fact that most of the cases presented involve Dr. Meador’s actual patients. Dr. Meador discovered Berton Roueché’s writing as a teenager, when he first read Eleven Blue Men. In an astonishing twist of fate, Roueché, in later years, traveled to Nashville to meet with Dr. Meador and discuss one of his cases, with Roueché’s account published posthumously under the title, The Man Who Grew Two Breasts. In a fitting tribute to Roueché, this perplexing case is revisited by Dr. Meador in the opening chapter of this highly enjoyable book. True Medical Detective Stories is a captivating read that will keep you marveling over the idiosyncrasies of the human body and the ingenuity of the human mind.
About M.D., Clifton K. Meador
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Published July 16, 2012
Professional & Technical.