Dr. Lisa Sanders investigates patients’ mysterious illnesses in Netflix’s “Diagnosis”


"I thought diagnosis was like the multiplication tables," says Dr. Lisa Sanders. "If you have this collection of symptoms, it's clearly this." But in med school, she had a revelation. "I realized that was actually not the case," she recalled during a recent Salon Talks. "It was not the multiplication tables, but really Sherlock Holmes." And Dr. Sanders loves a good mystery.

Sanders' thought-provoking New York Times medical column was the inspiration for the long-running Fox series "House," and it's now been adapted for the new Netflix documentary series "Diagnosis."

In each episode, Sanders and a squad of crowd-sourced internet detectives pool their knowledge to find the cause of a patient's baffling, often debilitating symptoms. The series also shows how healthcare is evolving to meet the demands of modern medicine, and modern patients. "How a doctor hears a patient and a patient's story and how the doctor gives that diagnosis back is an important part of how medicine works," she said, "and one that hadn't been given enough attention previously. I think we're trying."

"Diagnosis" does not offer easy solutions for all the patients profiled, but it does reveal deep insight into the human side of scientific advancement, even when the outcome is difficult.

Despite the humbling power of illness, Sanders reminds, "If you have to be sick, and you have to have something mysterious... there has never been a time in history when you were likely to get the right diagnosis than right now. We know more, we can test for more, we can think about more. That's a tremendous boon for patients. Most of the time, most people get the right diagnosis."

Watch the episode above to learn more about "Diagnosis."


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