The Times Magazine’s ‘Diagnosis’ Column Is Now a Documentary Series
Dr. Lisa Sanders is an associate professor at the Yale University School of Medicine who also writes about medical mysteries for The New York Times Magazine. Her column, which she has written since 2002, follows patients with unusual symptoms as they search for diagnoses that can change their lives.
Last year, Dr. Sanders embarked on a new adventure: bringing her passion for diagnosis to a documentary series for Netflix — with Times readers at the center.
It worked like this: Dr. Sanders introduced a series of patients with undiagnosed illnesses to the readers of her column. We met Angel, a young woman with terrible chronic pain in her muscles; Willie, a gulf war veteran suffering from seizures and memory loss; and Sadie, a little girl with repeat seizures; among others.
Dr. Sanders shared detailed accounts of each patient’s symptoms, as well as key components of their medical records. All of the patients had the opportunity to share their stories through a brief video. Then we asked readers to scour this information and tell us what they thought might be causing illnesses. Ideas from readers were shared with the patients and their doctors to help them find the right diagnosis.
Hundreds and sometimes thousands of readers responded.
“The generosity of the people who read the column and were willing to spend real time trying to figure out these mysteries — to me, that was just extraordinary,” Dr. Sanders said.
She and the producers of the show used these responses to guide their search for answers — documenting every part of the process.
The result is a seven-episode documentary series on Netflix starting Aug. 16. Watch the trailer on this page and tune in next month. And sign up below to get an email notification when the episodes are live.