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Book Review: True Medical Detective Stories by Clifton K. Meador, M.D.

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True Medical Detective Stories, by Clifton K. Meador, M.D., is fairly self explanatory. Nineteen unique cases are presented to the reader in a way that is both intriguing as well as intricate. The patients with the various health issues are not different from most others. In fact, doctors and nurses would see most of the symptoms on a regular basis.

However, medicine itself is known to be tricky. What looks like one thing could turn out to be indicative of 10 more diagnoses. Why? The answer is simple, really. Conditions are not exclusive to one set of symptoms. For example, a fever can mean a body is fighting off infection or can be a sign of delirium.

On the bright side, each case is a different story. With a mere glance at the table of contents, those who choose to peruse can decide where to start.

“Dr. Jim’s Breast” is hardly a typical scenario. Meador works with Berton Roueche, a staff writer at The New Yorker, who made the medical detective story genre interesting to readers. Obviously, the patient is not Roueche himself. In fact, this story is about another doctor with a possible diagnosis of cancer. Whether the theory is true is something for the reader to discover. The twist at the end is unusual, which helps.

“A Young Doctor and a Coal Miner’s Wife” is smile-worthy. The title is somewhat misleading since the patient is happily married. Liz, the patient this time, supplies the solution. Let’s just say the culprit is an “it.”

Each case is a glimpse into the life of an ordinary person who has the misfortune to become ill. While the science is most likely factual, anything else might be a form of artistic license. At any rate, most readers should be able to find something to enjoy.

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