Policy

On Trump with Dr. Oz, Hillary’s health and HIPAA

Neither Trump nor Clinton was obligated to release doctor’s notes. There’s this little thing called HIPAA that is supposed to protect the confidentiality of health information.

Dr. Mehmet Oz (left) reviews the medical records of Donald Trump, Sept. 14, 2016.

Dr. Mehmet Oz (left) reviews the medical records of Donald Trump.

In an episode that aired Thursday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump went on “The Dr. Oz Show” and released summaries of his medical records.

There weren’t a lot of bombshells, nor was there even much bombast. Host Dr. Mehmet Oz asked Trump about what the latter would put in place of the Affordable Care Act, something the candidate has had some harsh words for in the past. “Obamacare as it’s called is really having a hard time,” a noticeably reserved Trump said.

But we did take away a few lessons from the hourlong broadcast.

For one, Oz, who often borders on quackery, can occasionally resemble the real physician he is. The Columbia University cardiovascular surgeon went through a list of medical questions with his guest, as he might while getting a patient’s medical and family history in an exam room.

We learned that Trump takes a statin for elevated cholesterol. Oz mentioned Lipitor, but Trump said he would not specify brand names. (According to his personal doctor’s report, the drug is rosuvastatin, better known as Crestor. Oz goofed again.)

Trump also that he doesn’t get colds often, though he has seasonal hay fever. Trump also revealed that he, at 6 feet, 3 inches tall, weighs 236 pounds, putting him just shy of the threshold for obesity.

But, for the most part, Trump appears to be in good health for a man of his age. At 70, Trump would be the oldest person ever to ascend to the presidency. (Opponent Hillary Clinton will turn 69 on Oct. 26.)

“If your health is as strong as it seems from your review of systems, why not share your medical records?” Oz asked.

After the predictable commercial break to build suspense, Trump turned to the audience and asked, rhetorically, “Should I do it?”

Of course, he got applause. And, of course, he had the records ready, in the form of a summary from his longtime personal physician, Dr. Harold Bornstein. If Bornstein is to be believed, Trump is in very good health for a 70-year-old.

Oz asked why Trump didn’t “blast this out” earlier. Trump said he didn’t think it was necessary and, besides, if he were hospitalized, everyone would know anyway.

Perhaps, but it would be a violation of his rights for a hospital employee or even a family member to leak news about a celebrity — or any other American — being admitted to a healthcare facility. There’s this little thing called HIPAA that is supposed to protect the confidentiality of health information.

After Clinton fell noticeably ill last week, her staff first awkwardly said she had allergies, but later was forced to admit she had come down with pneumonia. Wednesday — the same day Oz taped his interview with Trump — the Clinton campaign released clinical summaries for both the Democratic nominee and for her running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia.

None of them had to release any of this information because of HIPAA, which was signed into law 20 years ago by a certain President Bill Clinton. There’s also no way of knowing that the candidates told us everything pertinent about their health and, frankly, that’s none of anyone’s business.

Sometimes, though, the pressures of politics, ahem, trump individual rights. At least these reports came out voluntarily.

 

Photo: Twitter user Dr. Mehmet Oz