Hillary’s Health — “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

by Gerard J. Gianoli, M.D.

I’ve encountered some interesting responses to my several articles on Hillary’s health. While I am a physician, I’ve never proclaimed a diagnosis in her case. I have simply asked if two of her known diagnoses—her concussion of 2012 and the left transverse sinus thrombosis (blood clot in the brain)—have been assessed for long-term consequences. What I have asked for, and I am still waiting for, is some medical records reporting on whether she has any of the well-known, long-term sequelae of these two potentially life-threatening disorders with well-known, often permanent cognitive impairments.

Most of the responses to my editorials have been favorable. However, the negative responses are actually more helpful, and they reveal a lot about those who write them. There are basically five different themes.

First: “It’s nothing. She’s completely normal and healthy. This is just a right-wing conspiracy.”

This remark can’t even be made with a straight face by the Clinton campaign since her collapse after spending 90 minutes hanging out at the 9/11 memorial ceremony. It is an even harder sell since last Monday’s speech at Temple University where Mrs. Clinton had to be helped up a few steps to the dais and then, during her speech, displayed “crazy eye movements” that are most consistent with a lateral rectus palsy—weakness of one of the eye muscles. Even if we ignore the recurring “medical episodes” she has had “frequently” (according to her husband), the concussion, the transverse sinus thrombosis, the deep vein thromboses, or the fact that a “healthy” patient does not have to take Coumadin the rest of their life, the eye movements are potentially ominous on their own. I’m still waiting for a serious physician (not paid by the Clintons and not ideologically blind) to put his reputation on the line by saying—“she’s completely normal and healthy.”

Second: “Privacy laws are such that it is unethical for a physician to say anything about Hillary’s health.”

Mrs. Clinton is not my patient and therefore I am not obligated to Mrs. Clinton is any way regarding discussion of her health. However, Dr. Lisa Bardack is Mrs. Clinton’s private physician. Consequently, Dr. Bardack cannot make any comments about Mrs. Clinton’s health without Mrs. Clinton’s consent. If Mrs. Clinton wants Dr. Bardack to make a statement about pneumonia but not about any neurocognitive testing she may have undergone, then Dr. Bardack has an ethical and legal requirement to not discuss any of the neurocognitive testing. If Mrs. Clinton were to tell untruths about her medical problems, Dr. Bardack cannot legally speak out to correct the record. Dr. Bardack’s letters are approved directly by Mrs. Clinton.

Third: “A doctor should never speculate about a diagnosis of someone he’s never seen or examined personally.”

This is utter nonsense. I’ve never speculated about her diagnoses. They’ve been given to us by Mrs. Clinton and her doctor. I’ve only asked what are the consequences of these diagnoses. Both concussion and transverse sinus thrombosis have known long-term negative consequences for cognitive function. It is not out of place to ask whether Mrs. Clinton has any residual cognitive dysfunction from these problems.

I contend, however, that it is more than acceptable to speculate about Mrs. Clinton’s medical diagnosis. I think it is important for physicians to speak out about this. Mrs. Clinton has been less than forthcoming about her medical problems, and her reticence to a full release of her medical records suggests to the public that she is hiding something. For a private individual, this would be fine. But she is applying for the job of Commander-in-Chief. If she will not disclose the problem, we need physicians to let the public know what are the possibilities of her disability.

Fourth: “This is a non-issue. The public doesn’t care about it.”

The media has reported on polls that claim the majority of the voting public think Mrs. Clinton is healthy enough to do the job of president. Of course, those polls ignore the fact that the majority of the voting public does not even know Mrs. Clinton has any medical problems. In a recent poll, when registered voters were asked if they knew Mrs. Clinton had any medical problems, roughly half did not. However, if they did know, most would be less likely to vote for her—and that concern crossed party lines.

Fifth: “You’re exactly right and I agree with you, but I don’t want to speak out and get harassed by the Trump-haters.”

That one says it all, doesn’t it? Physicians have been bullied into silence.

My final diagnosis of Mrs. Clinton’s health problems can be summed up in her own quote: “What difference, at this point, does it make?” We know that she has “medical episodes” that are “frequent” (Bill Clinton), “not frequent, rare” (Bill Clinton), or “a couple of times, I can’t remember how many” (Hillary Clinton) that leave her completely incapacitated for a period of time. They are frequent enough that she travels with a nurse and the Secret Service does not rush her to the hospital when they occur—as after the 9/11 event. Should we elect a candidate that we know will not be responsive to the needs of the presidency on a regular basis? I think not.


Gianoli_110Dr. Gerard J. Gianoli specializes in Neuro-otology and Skull Base Surgery.  He is in private practice at The Ear and Balance Institute, located in Covington, but is also a Clinical Associate Professor in the Departments of Otolaryngology and Pediatrics at Tulane University School of Medicine.  He pioneered treatments for Superior Semicircular Canal Dehiscence and other vestibular disorders.  His private practice has a worldwide reach, with patient referrals coming from all over the United States and from around the world.

Dr. Gianoli opted out of Medicare in 2001 and has had a 100% third-party-free practice since 2005.  He’s lectured and written extensively (as well as had numerous media interviews) on third party free medical practices and free market medicine.  His editorials have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Investor’s Business Daily, The Hill and other popular periodicals.

He has received numerous awards, including the American Academy of Otolaryngology’s Honor Award, and has been named in America’s Top Doctors and America’s Top Physicians every year since their inception in 2001 and 2003 respectively.  Dr. Gianoli practices all aspects of neuro-otology but has a special interest in vestibular (balance) disorders.  He has researched, lectured and published extensively on the topic of vestibular disorders.

Website:  www.earandbalance.net

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Hillary’s Health — “What difference, at this point, does it make?” — 2 Comments

  1. Your comments are interesting, Gerry, though I’m actually far more interested in political candidates’ mental condition than their physical condition. But to return to concerns about physical condition: when one enters the area of speculation about physical health where does it stop? Isn’t physical condition pertinent to others performing demanding jobs? Like a surgeon – such as you – or a trial lawyer – like me? Should we post our medical details on websites? There is a very clear delineation of responsibility for the exercise of presidential powers should the president be incapacitated. There’s nothing like, is there, for a surgeon incapacitated during surgery? I know that there is no such thing relative to a lawyer conducting a trial, except for the declaration of a mistrial.

    Secondly, one can conclude from Secretary Clinton’s high-level of functioning, largely in the public eye, that whatever her problems she gets the job done. Isn’t that what counts? It was pretty impressive to me that she kept functioning with pneumonia and not at all surprising, considering that she kept working while sick, that she finally collapsed. I (same age as Clinton) had pneumonia a year ago and took a full week off work & was only able to return to a full schedule after a couple of weeks more.

    But really, isn’t psychological condition more critical than physical condition? A candidate who is a sociopath, or a narcissist, or a misogynist – conditions often not apparent to the public – presents much more of a presidential danger, it seems to me, than an older person with physical limitations. So if we are going to pry into one area shouldn’t we pay attention to the other? Obviously, though, the psychological testing of candidates (or surgeons or lawyers) is a nonstarter of an idea.

    I would say that the moral is that we voters do not get to poke and prod at political candidates beyond the questioning and listening which makes up political contests. In my judgement, the cauldron of public observation of the public and private behavior of political candidates is quite enough, although it would be most fascinating to be able to consider the results of a thorough battery of psychological tests.

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