Wednesday, June 1, 2011

EPTAS after the afterword

After reading the afterword, please reflect on the following:
  1. Why do you think Dr. Sanders shared her story of her sister in the afterword?
  2. Did your understanding of autopsies change after reading this? How important do you feel they are? What do you think about the prevailing trend around autopsies it fine, or should we try to reverse it?
Think back on the whole book, and your experience reading it while trying to learn about human anatomy and physiology. Please help me understand your overall impression of EPTAS.
  1. Did it help provide perspective, or connect the material we were studying to the "real world" in a helpful way? 
  2. Did you enjoy reading the book? 
  3. Would you still have read the book if you didn't have to do as many (or any) blog posts?
  4. Did you find that the process of reading each others responses & posting enriched your learning experience in some way?
  5. Would you recommend that next year's juniors read this book, or do you have another that you think would be better?
Post by end of the school day on Friday, June 3rd.


  1. I think that Dr. Sanders told the story of her sister to show that what she had discussed in the book, such as the problems with diagnosis, had a very personal effect on her own life. It showed how important it was to her that medicine be improved, especially as a tool to find, solve, and prevent problems rather than as an answer that comes a little too late. After reading this chapter, I believe that autopsies are important for understanding "what we don't know we don't know". However, I believe that finding answers from and for living patients is at least as important, if not more so.
    I'm not really sure how much this book actually connected to the material we were studying along with it...I did think that it was a very interesting way to learn about medicine in the "real world", though. Dr. Sanders brought up several very interesting points in talking about the process of diagnosis and the physical exam. I did get a little tired of reading an entire book of stories with very similar structure that were trying to make very similar points, but otherwise I did enjoy reading the book. I think the blog posts were a little more effective in getting me to read it than just the assignments; some sort of discussion or quiz might also work pretty well. I usually didn't read through all the other responses. I think next year's juniors should read this book, maybe after cutting out a chapter or two to make it a little less repetitive.

  2. I think that Dr. Sanders shared her story in the afterword to help drive home her point about the comfort that medicine can provide, by providing closure in our darkest moments.

    Based on the afterword, i feel that autopsies are extremely important. even if a doctor believes that they have diagnosed a patient's illness, and thus have an explanation for their demise, it's still important to check to ensure that said cause of death is in fact toe correct one. if the doctor is correct, it will just make them more confident in their own abilities, and if they are wrong, they can use this slip to improve their abilities for their next patients. for this reason, i think that it's important to reverse the trend of decreasing numbers of autopsies.

    EPTAS did help provide some perspective on what we have learned in human physiology this, but it doesn't provide a lot. the stories that Dr. Sanders told in the book were interesting to read based on what we were learning but the central argument felt irrelevant. I enjoyed reading the book, but i don't think i would have read as much if i had been required to do less blog posts. As stated above, reading EPTAS was slightly interesting, but not enough to be considerd "enriching" my learning process. I would recommend that next years juniors read different book, that provides more perspective.

  3. - Dan Cohen period 4
    I think that Dr. Sanders brought this story up in the last chapter to bring medicine back into perspective. She has taken the entire book and written about the field of medicine itself but in this chapter she talks a lot about how her sister's death had an impact on her being. This chapter also brought the story of medicine back to a more personal level. Her story of loss is heartbreaking but we are still interested in the medicinal side of things because she wants to know what happened.
    My understanding of autopsies has changed after reading this chapter. I honestly had not thought well of autopsies before..I had thought them as a violation more than a learning experience but I see now that I was wrong in my assumptions. Autopsies are extremely important to advancing our medical knowledge in addition to training new doctors. Interesting
    I thought this book was very interesting and I enjoyed reading it but generally I did not find that it connected well with our is a book that I might have read in my free time and was very interesting and thought-provoking but had only a little in common with what we are studying. At the very least I now have a much better idea of what she is referring to when she talks about illnesses.

  4. Much of the time, I feel that people (myself included) carry this mindset in regards to medicine, where they see it as an interesting science and a good basis for television shows, but they never see it as having a direct impact on their lives. Medicine has started to detach itself from the emotional side of people, and one often forgets that the purpose of medicine is to (attempt to) cure those who are sick, and those who are sick are not just indistinct faces, rather a friend or a family member of someone else. I think Dr. Sanders brought in a personal touch to remind us of just that, what we see on TV and regard as an enigmatic science can often come much closer to our own hearts than we ever expected.

    In regards to biopsies, I still see both sides. On the medical side, I certainly see the appeal. It is a way to provide answers, confirm hypotheses, or discover something new. A biopsy often gives a doctor an unparalleled look at the intricacies of another person; furthermore, were it not for biopsies and examination of cadavers, modern medicine as we know it would have never evolved. In contrast, I also see the emotional side to it; it is still a violation of a dead body. While for the doctor it might be seen as a learning experience, I would be weary to allow defacing of a body of a loved one for the sake of science. I am still undecided on the topic of biopsies, because it provides itself as a battle between the logical aspect of it, and the emotional.

    I think EPTAS was an interesting book, albeit one that sometimes got a little bit repetitive with certain themes (physical exam, for example). I agree with what others have said, and I find that it didn't link into our curriculum very well. As someone who is interested in going into the medical field, I found it intriguing, yet I would say that it is more of a leisure book than a school book, because of the lack of integration into curriculum. If we didn't have blog posts, I might have read it at a more leisurely pace, taking my time with chapters I particularly enjoyed, instead of feeling rushed to reply with blog posts in rapid succession. That being said, I do think it's interesting to see what others have to say on the book, because some topics (like biopsies) are controversial. This leaves me split on the fate of EPTAS, because although I enjoyed it as a book to read for my own edification, I felt like (as it stands) the curriculum wasn't linked enough to it.

  5. I think Dr. Sanders shared her sister's story in order to make clear the very personal consequences that the quest for a diagnosis can have. The fact that she shared the story really added a lot to the book; it showed the reader how much could be at stake not only for a patient but also for the psychological health of their family in the struggle to determine a diagnosis.
    Before reading this, I didn't know that autopsies are used not only to determine the cause of death in a mysterious case but also to check the diagnostic accuracy of doctors in a hospital. However, I'm not that disturbed by the fact that the autopsy rate has declined so much in recent years. Based on previous chapters of this book, there are plenty of ways to improve diagnostic accuracy that don't rely on autopsies to show their success. Also, on a more personal level, I'd have a lot of trouble reconciling myself to the knowledge that I or someone I'm close to would be autopsied after death. I know that's not a good/scientific reason not to do as many autopsies, and many people probably disagree with me, but I think it's important to take into account the effect that performing an autopsy could have on the dead person's friends and relatives.

    I thought EPTAS did provide useful perspective and real world connections to the physiology that we studied. I appreciated the opportunity to examine the human and societal impacts of physiology and medicine. Although it could be repetitive and perhaps one-dimensional, I mostly enjoyed reading the book, and it seems like a good choice for next year's juniors to read. I probably would have read most of the book if we didn't have to do blog posts, but I enjoyed the chance offered by the blog posts to reflect on the readings.

  6. I think Dr. Sanders shared the emotional story of her sister's death to remind the reader that all the cases and diseases described in the book are real and affect real people. It seemed like maybe this book was the author's catharsis, her way of making peace with a tragic medical conundrum close to her heart.
    In the afterword, learned about the process of an autopsy, but maybe more importantly I learned that autopsies are no longer a priority in the medical field. I think that they should be brought back, because they can be an important tool for medical students and a way of checking the accuracy of doctor's decisions.

    The book certainly brought real-world perspective to medicine. I don't think it connected much to actual physiology, but then again, the book was written for a wider audience than biology students.
    Much of the book were really interesting, but I think I would have preferred to just read the parts that were more relevant to class. Had the blog posts not been required, I probably would have read the most biology-relevant chapters and skimmed the others.
    I found it enriching to read other students' comments and see what resonated for them in contrast to what resonated for me. I would recommend that next year's juniors either only read excerpts of the book, or read a different book that is more directly connected to the class.

  7. I think Sanders included the personal anecdote of her sister's mysterious death to demonstrate that she understands the patients' point of view. Sanders understands the patient's need to have a straightforward diagnosis that we can attribute the cause of all the suffering of symptoms, and this understanding can be tied back to the lessons of the book that teach about the current failings in the procedure of making a diagnosis; it adds urgency to the movement to educate doctors about the physical exam, the importance of story telling and listening, of using all five senses, of critical thinking, and of accounting for errors. The doctor's must be cognizant of the fact that patients and their families require a diagnosis for their mental and physical wellbeing.

    Before reading this chapter I did not know much about autopsies except for their purpose. After reading about the actual process of cutting open the body, I understand why autopsies have been stigmatized and are undergoing a decline. This process doesn't sound like a humane solution for catching doctors' mistakes. Although it is true that without autopsies, doctors will never know whether a mistake was made and then use this knowledge to reform medical procedures, Sanders has a point that our current medical technology and diagnostic processes, while not perfect, is good enough and continually being reformed.

    I enjoyed reading EPTAS, and would recommend it to be read again next year. I would have read the book without the required blog posts, as I found the different patients' stories interesting and could relate to the different questions posed and answered by Sanders about the process of making a diagnosis.

  8. DR. Danders used a personal story about her sister in the and of the book to give the book some significants. At times this book was just facts and interpretations of facts and probabilities and diagnoses, but when you incorporate real human life, it makes it more relatable and important. In this way, Sanders makes us the reader, feel like there is a grater importance to what she is talking about than just statistics. Autopsies are good and have always served a good purpose, however, now, because more of medicine and diagnosis is understood, autopsies are becoming less necessary. Autopsies need only be done on people who's death was unexpected or not understood; if a patient's death is understood, then an autopsy would present no results. As we learn more about diagnosis, the more patients we are able to understand before death, and therefor the fewer patients we need to autopsy.
    I thinks this book is interesting, although sometimes longwinded. There are definitely parts in this book that related to what we learned in class this year, however, I feel like the majority of the book didn't really relate to what we learned.

  9. I think that Dr. Sander's recollection of her sister's death really helps me understand that people feel better when they know what happened. Making a disease or death less mysterious helps alleviate some stress and grief that family members deal with. Knowing what happened helps families cope with the loss of a loved one. It helps them understand that their loved one truly is gone, having a great psychological impact.

    I believe autopsies should be up to the person who died to decide. Sure, not everyone has a will or something handy that explicitly states if they allow their body to be used for an autopsy or not, but if they do, then their wishes should be respected. But... in some ways, I can understand that what's left is just a body. The "living essence" is gone, so maybe it could be okay to perform an autopsy and glean some information that could be vital for someone else.

    I liked the book. In some ways, I feel like her writing is definitely... "dumbed down", or more accessible to more people, because she has this style of writing that is very clear, if not bland.

    I dont know if the book really related to our study of anatomy.... In some cases, knowing information about organ systems that she is talking about helps me understand her story better, but I feel like with Google at hand, I could have just as easily googled those terms she used.

    I liked the book, so i think i would have read it anyways even if there were less prompts. Actually, I would have probably enjoyed the book more if I didnt have to write about it every other week. I didnt think reading other's people's comments were THAT helpful...

    I recommend this book.

  10. In the afterword, Dr Sanders recalls the tragic death of her sister. Using her sister as an example, she wants to illustrate that there is a human being in each case. Doctors have busy schedules. More often than not, doctors treat patients like a case or a number forgetting that every patient tells a story and behind each patient, there is a family in pain. In this chapter, Dr Sanders talks about autopsies as well. With the advance in testing and technology, there is no need to do autopsies in many cases since the diagnosis may be obvious. However, in cases where the patient’s death is unexpected, autopsies should be done. First of all, autopsies may unveil the diagnosis. Family members will benefit from the information if a hereditary condition is the cause of death. In addition, even in cases where no diagnosis is found, the autopsies could give family closure.
    EPTAS is a fun book to read like watching an episode of ER or House. I also enjoy the interaction with my classmates on the blog. The book, however, deals mainly with patient care which has little connection with human physiology that we are studying this semester. I still feel that there is a value of using the book. Perhaps we could use the book as a summer reading for students taking Biology or AP Biology in the fall.

  11. In the afterword, Sanders provides insight on a different kind of physical examination: the autopsy. Sanders shares her story to call attention to the fact that so much medical information can be discerned from an individual after his or her death. Although the autopsy ultimately did not reveal the cause behind Sanders’ sister’s death, Sanders deduced the fact that dangerously low potassium levels brought about her sister’s almost instantaneous death. Sanders certainly wants more autopsies to be performed, but we must first examine why they are no longer done as frequently (many of these reasons are supplied by Sanders herself). Firstly, doctors are gaining confidence in their diagnoses as medical technology and training improve year after year. Secondly, the rising costs of healthcare have made performing autopsies less appealing. Often, the physician’s biggest enemy is time. If doctors can perform autopsies without the expense of time or money, they should continue to do so and more frequently. But the impression I’m getting from today’s lower autopsy rate is that autopsies are no longer regarded to be as practical or useful as they once were.

    EPTAS was a good way to dive headfirst into the mind of a physician, but the book still leaves something to be desired. Since EPTAS tries to focus more on the diagnostician himself than the actual medicine, I don’t see how it ties directly with the content we’re learning. That’s not the issue, though. The book was horrendously repetitive; at least a couple chapters tried to convey largely the same idea. I would have preferred to explore more ideas than just the value of the physical examination. If I didn’t have to write blog posts, would I still have read the book? Not as carefully. Although it was an enjoyable read, I still feel there was a lot of unnecessary “fluff” that appeared to have been included for the sole sake of making the chapter look more substantial or lengthy. At times I felt as though Sanders was just presenting patient case study after case study. Some patient cases interrupted others, making me all the more confused. It was during moments like these that I did not feel engaged in the story. One of my gripes with the book is that many ideas could have been expressed in fewer words.

    Indeed, I certainly enjoyed posting my thoughts and reading others’. I appreciate those who were willing to share their unique or thought-provoking ideas. I would semi-enthusiastically recommend this book to next year’s juniors. What irks me is that each chapter follows a similarly monotonous format. Each case Sanders presents mimics the next: the normally healthy patient suddenly becomes fatally ill, the symptoms are too vague to pinpoint any one disease, and ultimately some brilliant physician is able to piece the story together (often after careful physical examination of the patient). Having to jump from one case to the next to the next can be quite exhausting. I do not have any alternatives to recommend.

  12. In the afterward, Dr. Sanders tells the story of her sister Julie's mysterious and sudden death that, even after an autopsy, could not by explained by the medical practitioners that had taken on her case. Sanders recalls the feeling of total shock and a desire to know, although it would not reverse her sister's death, what had caused her forty-two year old sister to die so instantaneously. She described her reaction as the same she had seen on many family members of deceased patients before, which I thought highlighted the fact that doctors don't always hold the answers. More than that, however, it showed that doctors are often the ones that suffer most from the fact that there are still many unanswered mysteries in the world of medicine. Sanders' recounting of this personal loss that she suffered made it easier to see doctors, who are often criticized for misjudging situations, for not saving the lives of all of their patients, and for being careless in their diagnoses, with the understanding that they cannot and will not always have the right diagnosis.
    After reading this chapter, I felt that the decreasing trend in autopsies should be reversed because they can be key in showing different illnesses or problems that are unexpected or unknown. However, I also understood that autopsies can's always give the answers (like in Julie's case), and even more important than autopsying the dead is finding out what is wrong with the patient while they are still alive.

    While I enjoyed this book, it sometimes felt like pointless homework/ busywork on top of all of the other work we had to do. If next years juniors were to read it, I would recommend that on nights that blog posts are due there not be any other reading or case study work for bio as well.

  13. I think that Dr. Sanders shared the story of her sister to bring the grand scheme of medicine into a personal prospective. Throughout the novel, we have been reading about these unusual, crazy medical stories that seem so out-of-the-ordinary and unrealistic. The story of Dr. Sanders’ sister made the point clear that medicine affects everyone’s lives, not just the lives of the extremely unique cases. I think that this story of a completely normal person affected by a real medical case introduced the emotional impact of medicine to Every Patient Tells a Story.

    After reading this afterword, my understanding of autopsies definitely changed. Now, I feel like they are extremely important, even if they can’t help the patient him/herself. Autopsies help doctors (as well as the patient’s family and friends) to fully understand what was wrong with the patient. Autopsies provide answers that would otherwise remain unknown. On the other side, autopsies can be seen as quite intrusive and unnecessary, as the patient is already dad. Overall, I think that the trend of decreasing autopsies should be reversed, because they provide important answers to confused doctors, friends, and families.

    I think that this book was interesting overall, but I’m not really sure how much it relates to the material we were studying. However, it has helped me to understand the field of medicine a bit more. I think that the time span we took to read this book made it difficult to stay interested. It took us so long to read, but I’m not really sure if there would be a way to change that without dropping the other things we were studying. I probably would have read the book if I didn’t have to do as many blog posts, as long as we talked about it in class or discussed the material in a different way. I found that the process of reading others’ responses was helpful because I gained insight into others’ thought processes and other ideas about the reading. I think that this book would be a lot more fun to read during the summer or outside of school, just because I’m not really sure how much it relates to the material we were learning in class.

  14. I think Dr. Sanders shared the story of her sister to really emphasize the personal side of medicine. As she has argued several times in the book, there is more to hospitals, doctors and medical treatment than just facts, machines and tests. Her sister’s death really exemplified many points Dr. Sander’s was trying to explain, such as the difficulties with diagnosis and the comfort that an autopsy can bring.

    I was surprised by how rare autopsies have become. It makes sense to me that autopsies are an effective way to understand what happened to a patient, as well as to teach medical students. However, the idea of violating a body and the expense of the autopsies led to declining rates of postmortem evaluation. I found it shocking that only 11 autopsies were carried out one year in Dr. Sanders’ hospital. I definitely feel that autopsies are important and should be done more often; they can discover the exact cause of death, and can provide closure to families.

    I definitely enjoyed reading this book overall, although it felt a bit repetitive and monotonous at times. Posting blogs and reading others’ blogs was a helpful experience, but I think cutting down on the number of blog posts would be nice. I think one might be able to find a more exciting book for the juniors next year to read, but I would still recommend EPTAS if something better was not found.

  15. As has been repeatedly said, the story of Dr. Sanders' sister's brought the realm of medicine down to a more emotional, personal level. Especially after having heard so many emotional stories used as evidence to support Sanders' claims, such a personal story almost gave her more credibility, and reminded the reader that everyone is affected by the various aspects of medicine - medicine isn't defined simply by numbers and facts.
    The role of autopsies also plays into this phenomenon - they are extremely helpful in terms of being able to offer a myriad of research opportunities (being able to study a dead body is key in the understanding of certain parts of human physiology). Yet, many people see an inherent emotional issue to probing a dead body, and view autopsies as a breach of the sanctity of the human body. Yet, after reading this chapter, the importance of autopsies was really stressed, and it seems that the trend of decreasing autopsies should be reversed, as they are indispensable to our knowledge and understanding of the body.
    I really did like this book - it definitely opened my eyes about many different topics and made me see a lot of the subjects we were learning about in class in a larger context. It was fascinating to read about all of the controversy and all of the personal stories because it brought in a whole new (emotional, controversial) level to human physiology and medicine.
    While the book may have overstressed and repeated monotonously certain ideas/claims, I really enjoyed reading it. I also thought the blog responses were a great way to keep us on track and allowed us to read about other people's views - which often varied pretty vastly due to the controversial nature of the book. I would have enjoyed being able to talk about the book at least a little bit in class, but overall, I thought the blog responses were a good system.
    Though this book could be slightly boring at times due to the incessant repetition, I believe in the end it really gave an interesting take on medicine that I hadn't really considered before. I would recommend it to next years juniors just because it offered a great escape from the purely factual, systematic world of biology that we focus on in class, and offered a more real world take on medicine.

  16. I think Dr. Sanders told the story of her sister to reveal the emotional, personal and delicate side of medicine. She uses this story as the device to give legitimacy and value to her overarching moral that medicine, as Anni said, is more than facts, tests and dethatched realities. She uses this story as a medium to cultivate a trust between her and the reader, saying “trust me, I have been there and I understand”.
    I agree with most that the decreasing amount of autopsies is cutting of the medical world from progress and advancement. Autopsies are clearly the most straightforward way of pin pointing and investigating the deceased illness. However, while I fully understand the intrusive nature of autopsies I still believe strongly in the need to sacrifice the body of the dead in order to benefit the bodies of the living.
    I think that while this book was eye opening and often even exciting, posting blogs almost every week was tedious and repetitive. It helped to read others blog posts and think about the book in terms of guiding questions, but blog posts somehow made it easy to loose points and not really confront the slacking. I think that if this method of reading and then blogging continues a heads up, an email or just an emphasis on the importance of blogs to our grades would have been more helpful, productive and efficient in the overall process and goal of this approach to reading the book.

  17. Throughout the whole book, Dr Sanders voice and opinion on all the cases mentioned has been one of an outsiders point of view. Though she makes good points that i generally agree with, for some, her voice might not have been persuasive enough until the point where she linked what she had been talking about to a personal experience. Knowing that she herself had to experience these possible mistakes in diagnosis and medical practice through her sisters death, makes her opinions seem more meaningful, true, and worth considering. Without this personal story added to the end of the book, the whole story would not have been tied together.
    I have always supported autopsies and found them to be interesting and a good learning tool. After reading this chapter, it solidified my views even more. I agree with Sarah that it is an important way and sometimes the only way to find out "what we don't know we don't know". Whether the doctors are right or wrong in their diagnosis of why the patient died, doing and autopsy would be a learning experience. Autopsies are important to making advances in medicine, and are a perfect teaching tool for aspiring doctors.
    Though the book was interesting and cool, i found that it became a bit repetitive with the main points it was trying to get across. I also found that the blogs were getting pretty repetitive as well because i found myself saying the same point numerous times in different posts. I also wish i was informed earlier on how important this was to our final grade because i would have taken them more seriously. I also wish the reminders to do them were sometimes a little more clear and not just an email sent the morning or day before it was due. However, i still found that reading others posts and writing them myself was fun and interesting. I do not think though, that it related much to what we were learning. Though it talked about medicine which relates to anatomy and such, it explained a completely different and unrelated aspect of medicine that didn't have too much to do with the actually biology of it.
    Overall it was a good and interesting book, but i do not see myself having read too much of it without the many bio blogs. For next year, i think that maybe only certain sections of the book should be assigned, because it ends up being tedious having to read the whole thing sometimes.

  18. I think that Dr. Sanders shared her personal story in the afterword because although the objective and factual aspect is an important part of a person’s life story, it is clearly not all the matters. Here, she allows her human, natural emotions show through, as she describes an autopsy being performed on a woman who died shortly after childbirth and compares the experience to the image of her sister’s death. Also, the fact that she was so sure that the low level of potassium was the problem even though there was no way of finding such evidence to support this shows that after much experience and acquiring of knowledge, medicine can become a sort of intuitive process. From sharing her personal story, we are finally able to see her as an integral part of a patient’s story rather than a narrator of several events that are pretty similar.

    My viewpoint toward autopsies has definitely changed after reading this chapter. Before I thought of it as a somewhat cruel, disrespectful process of taking apart a person’s body, but now I see that it has and does provide key insight into several medical problems and mysteries. As Dr. Sanders has shared with us, doctors have discovered a significant amount of information about illness, disease, etc. through these autopsies. However, I’m not so sure that more autopsies would make a huge impact on expanding our knowledge today. I think that we have come a long way since the days that autopsies were regularly performed and that only certain rare cases may actually contribute to our already massive store of medical information. Furthermore, Dr. Sanders shared her feelings of humiliation when imagining her sister’s autopsy, which is a key deterrent from changing how we do autopsies today.

    I really enjoyed reading EPTAS because I think it did help tie all the information we’ve been learning about the human body together, giving us a broader, more “real-world” perspective. The book was engaging through its suspenseful stories (although sometimes they got a little repetitive). I was fascinated by the rarity of some of the diseases and symptoms that doctors struggled to diagnose. I think I would have still read the book even if the blog responses weren’t due as often or at all. I did enjoy reading others’ blog responses because sometimes they helped me see issues through a different perspective. I would definitely recommend having the juniors next year read EPTAS.

  19. I think Dr. Sanders shared the story of her sister so that her personal life would actually connect with the book. I think that it helped understand her way of thinking better. I think autopsies are very important in both learning, and for families to know how their loved ones died. I think that they provide a good way of education.
    I think EPTAS didn't connect well with what we were learning. I didn't particularly dislike the book, but I felt more obligated to read it rather than actually feeling inclined to read it. I thought the House-like stories were interesting, but a lot of it went way over my head. I think this may have been more interesting in a different context. Truthfully, I don't think I would have read the book as thoroughly if we didn't have to do the blog posts so frequently. I think if you had said that blogs would be worth 13.7% of our grade, people would have done them more. They also would have been more helpful. I think that a discussion every once in a while would have helped people understand the stories more. It also would have forced people to read it. I liked that we did blogs rather than quizzes.
    I definitely liked reading other peoples blog posts and responding based on those. I don't think the juniors should read this book next year, but I don't have a better alternative. It wasn't bad, but I think with more discussions on it, I would have gotten a lot more out of it.

  20. I believe Dr. Sanders shared the story about her sister to connect her own personal story to those that she wrote about, to show the reader where she was coming from while writing EPTAS, and in the end to underline the fact that every patient does indeed tell a story. Autopsies, though a little morbid and seemingly inhumane, also seem like a very important outlet for a doctor to learn, it can provide a useful explanation for things allowing the doctor to keep that in mind for the future.

    About EPTAS as a whole, the stories in it were interesting but like others have said it ended up seeming very repetitive. It did give us a "real world" outlook on the material we were reading but I feel like it didn't have a clear connection to the material we were learning in class. Like leah said above, if we had in class discussions I would have got more form the book and maybe gathered a deeper understanding of the material. As it is, I think that that next years junior's should read EPTAS but I think maybe assigning specific chapters and not reading all of them along with in class discussions would improve the overall experience of the book.

  21. It seems to me that Sanders shared her sister's story to bring emotion to the book, and draw a personal connection to both the reader and the author. The story demonstrates how knowledge can help someone recover from a tragic loss, but also demonstrates the proximity of grief to the field of medicine. Throughout much of the book, patients were presented with an emotional detachment that was useful in understanding physiology and medicine, but removed many human qualities from the anecdotes. By ending with her personal story, Sanders illustrates to the reader that medicine will always be deeply personal and saturated with loss.
    After reading the afterword, I certainly began to feel that autopsies are critical to medical study. Without autopsies, doctors would not be able to see the full manifestations of diseases, and often the causes of death would remain a mystery. Autopsies are necessary not only for the teaching opportunities they present, but also for their ability to provide closure to the family/friends of the patient. I was surprised by how much the autopsy is losing prominence in medicine, and definitely think that the trend should be reversed.
    I enjoyed reading much of EPTAS, and do think it gave me added perspective to our studies. I found the cases that Sanders presented particularly interesting, but often her analysis became repetitive or long-winded. I probably would have still read the book if blog posts had not been required, though I may have skimmed over the more repetitive sections. I liked being able to read other people's blog posts, and I think they did often force me to think over and analyze the book more than I would have done otherwise. I'm not sure if I would recommend the book in the future; I think there are probably better choices out there. There were certainly interesting sections and I did enjoy the alternate perspective on our study of physiology, but it seems to me that another book might provide these things in a better format.

  22. I think that Dr. Sanders shared her sister's story in order to explain to the audience why she feels the need to dissect medical mysteries and improve medical care in this country. However, I don't necessarily see the connection between her sister and the death of the physical exam- her sister's illness wasn't necessarily something that would have been caught by a routine physical exam. I do think that autopsies can offer some relief to the patients' family, as I do in this case, and I also think that it is important to do some autopsies to catch medical errors and try to pin down the source of unexplained deaths.

    In terms of connections to our class, I felt like the book was a bit out of context. It was interesting hearing real-life examples about how different systems worked and didn't work together, and more about the immune system, but I don't think we did as much of that in class. The book started out interesting, and I actually started reading it over winter break, but after the first chapter the rest of the book is somewhat repetitive. In each chapter the author talks about patients whose diseases are mysterious, and can't figure it out- usually because of one missed symptom that they would have seen with the physical exam; the doctor usually solves the case by talking to another doctor. Some of the cases were really interesting, but the book seemed a bit too formulaic. If I hadn't been reading to write blog posts, I might not have paid as much attention to the details, but I don't think that reading the book would have felt as tedious. I did enjoy discussing the book with my classmates. As for next year, I do think this book gets extremely dry in a lot of places, so if there's another option I think you should let them read that; I did enjoy the book, but it was hard to get through in places.

  23. I think Dr. Sanders shared her story of her sister in the afterword to give a more personal perspective on her discussion of diagnosing and how it has affected her life. In doing so she puts a face on the concept of medicine and the struggles that families and people face when searching for a diagnosis and trying to find a cure. I’ve always thought that autopsies were useful in determining causes of death but never thought of how they could check misdiagnoses. I’m sort of surprised that the use of autopsies re declining because I found them to be useful to check for what could have went wrong, but then again it’s not as necessary because of all the other ways doctors have of determining diagnosis and treating people these days. I think that EPTAS did provide a perceptive for how the material we are learning relates to the real world, particularly in human physiology, but I was kind of left thinking that biology was mostly useful to someone who wanted to pursue a career in the medical field and wondered what other career options could make use of this subject. I did not particularly enjoy reading the book but appreciated that it was not difficult to follow and wasn’t dry or boring. I think that I would have read the book without these blog posts if we had class discussions on the readings. I think that would overall be better because you can hear people’s opinions first hand and have the opportunity to ask questions. Although we might have been hard pressed to find time within class to discuss this book when we had a lot of other material to cover. I think the process of reading other peoples blog posts did enrich my learning experience because it provided me with a way to learn about the same concept though different perspectives and I would recommend this book for next year.

  24. I feel like Dr. Sanders shared her (very) personal story about her sister to try to connect with the reader. For the majority of the book, Dr. Sanders has shown the reader much of what doctors don’t know, don’t consider, and don’t remember. Dr. Sanders wanted to share a bit of herself to give credibility to her position. Being a doctor, Dr. Sanders already is disconnected from the reader (the patient) because she has an entirely different perspective on medicine. Dr. Sanders’ goal was to show the reader that she has seen the patient’s side of the story as well. Her sister’s sudden, mysterious death must have puzzled the reader as much as it puzzled Dr. Sanders. What particularly caught my attention in this chapter was Dr. Sanders’ explanation for her sister’s death. Hypokalemia, a low level of potassium, fits perfectly with her sister’s alcoholism, and it fits perfectly with the person that Dr. Sanders knew as her sister. I believe Dr. Sanders wanted to show that not all diagnoses are technically correct, but all diagnoses try to help the patient confront the unknown by giving it a face.

    I didn’t know much about autopsies before reading this chapter, especially their useful application to early medicine. I liked the history that Dr. Sanders gave about how crucial the autopsy was for doctors before the technology to diagnose certain illnesses were invented. I definitely think that autopsies are very important for medicine, and I think it is a mistake to believe they are obsolete. Autopsies can confirm much of our diagnoses, and it’s important that we have a method of determining diagnostic accuracy. I don’t believe we should require hospitals to perform X autopsies, for then hospitals would perform a bunch of autopsies with no purpose other than to meet the quota. Maybe there should be some sort of governmental financial assistance to further medicine by promoting interesting autopsies.

  25. I believe that Dr. Sanders shared the intimate story of her sister in the afterword to bring a personal aspect to all the medical processes suggested before in her book. I know personally that my father is unable to treat any of his children, relatives, or friends because knowing the patient completely changes the way the case is viewed. Emotional attachment to a patient can keep a doctor from initiating the proper course of action.
    I have watched plenty of crime TV shows. I had an impression, if somewhat skewed, of what autopsies were about. After reading the afterword, i think that autopsies were essential in building the study of medicine as it is today. Her sister's troubling illness would not have been discovered without it. Healing diseases can be facilitated through autospies.
    Reading EPTAS was really effective in linking the anecdotes and subject matter into the real world. This held particularly true when we were doing case studies on topics the chapter discussed. Perhaps synchronize them? I really enjoyed reading EPTAS. Personally, I would have read the book. While blog posts were not my favorite, perhaps you could have a book report at the end of the year on it. Reading some of my friends responses really gave me great insight into the reading an often provided differing points of view from my own. I think that EPTAS and perhaps all of that "Brain Rules" book should be read next year in bio.

  26. I think Dr. Sanders shared the story of her sister to really make clear that there is really a patient, a real person, in every one of these cases. It definitely makes all of her suggestions and problems she found with medicine today that need to be improved a little less abstract. It showed that she had a personal connection and I think that that is really important to the tone of the book. My ideas about autopsies have not changed but I still think they are very important tools for making future diagnoses.

    I definitely enjoyed reading EPTAS overall. I do think (and as others have written on here) that it got a little monotonous at times but still did a good job of driving home the points it needed to. It helped put things in context for me a little bit but not a lot. I think that maybe the number of blog posts could be diminished but not taken away altogether. Overall, I think the most important change to be made is to post on the calendar on the website when the blogs are. I think that was the biggest reason people didn't always do them every week and its something relatively simple to improve participation.

  27. I think Dr. Sanders shared the story of her sister, which was obviously very close to her heart, to help the reader understand both her own personal experience with illnesses and autopsies and loss, and the fact that death and pain are universal; it helps drive home the fact that we are all affected in some way, shape or form by what she describes in this chapter and in the entirety of her book. By making the story more intimate, Sanders links the reader’s life/experiences more closely with the impersonal facts and data in other sections of the book, forcing us to consider these facts more carefully.
    I think the statistics Sanders cited for declining autopsy rates may not have portrayed the situation with complete accuracy. Though fewer autopsies are being performed, more patients are being accurately diagnosed. If only 6% of deaths with unknown causes for deaths got autopsies, that would be more cause for worry. Still, I think more autopsies should happen; it’s unfortunate that they are no longer federally funded, because as Sanders says, much of what we know about illness is learned from dead bodies.

    1&2: The book was interesting and I did enjoy reading it, although there were few instances where the material coincided directly with what we were studying. It was mostly about the science of diagnosis itself rather than the patients’ cases.
    3: I finished the book before most of the blog posts were due. So yes.
    4: Reading others’ responses was often useful, as my classmates sometimes had interesting insights that had not occurred to me.
    5: I think next year’s juniors should read the book because it’s an easy read, fairly interesting, and (according to the class of 2011) much better than The Making of a Surgeon.

  28. I found the story at the end about the sister to be a very good way to wrap everything up. Indeed the whole book discusses the ways in which people interact and communicated, as well as the importance of these experiences, and I think the personal story made everything that much more real and human.
    As for autopsies, I find it alarming that fewer and fewer are being performed in this country every year. Regardless of what a doctor might think the cause of death may be, it is important to verify the conclusion with an autopsy. They provide statistical data as well as a learning experience for both new and seasoned doctors. Much of our early medical knowledge came from analysis during autopsy, and I believe (and as is a theme throughout the book) old methods need to be interspersed with the new ones. This goes for both treatment and research

    1. To be honest, I didn't feel that this book really connected to the material we were learning, primarily because the practice of medicine involves so much more than just physiology and chemical processes. There were quite a few philosophical discussions in the book, and I think the real value lied in those parts
    2. The book was interesting to read, however I didn't find it gripping; it wasn't a page turner per se.
    3. I would not have read it independently, but when assigned as homework I would have regardless of the blog responses.
    4. As I consider myself to be a pensive person in general, I don't believe these blog postings changed my reading or influenced my thinking; I would have reflected on the text anyway.
    5. Eh... I suppose the blog responses would force the lesser motivated students to do the reading.