Dr. Saphier: Fetterman’s note from doctor does not clear up stroke survivor’s health concerns

Dr. Nicole Saphier, a Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center physician who frequents Fox News to give her insight on public health topics, penned an op-ed for Daily Mail regarding the recent dust-up surrounding Senate hopeful John Fetterman’s health.

As he recovers from a stroke, many are concerned that he lacks the cognitive requirements to perform the strenuous duties of the office despite repeated assurances from his team. Last week his campaign released a note from his personal physician that was meant to assure people that he is more than capable of being a senator.

But Dr. Saphier says this isn’t a “clean bill of health” for Fetterman, and the letter itself “doesn’t tell us much of anything.”

“U.S. Senate hopeful John Fetterman’s campaign released a doctor’s letter last week declaring him fit to serve in public office,” she wrote. “For the sake of Fetterman and his family, I hope that is true. But we’ll have to take his physician’s word for it. Because as a doctor I can tell you that letter doesn’t tell us much of anything.”

She cautioned against believing that Fetterman’s note “proves a clean bill of health” because in her words: “It does not.”

“Fetterman was hospitalized on May 13th after suffering a near-fatal stroke. Two days later, his campaign revealed that fact to the public as he was on his way to winning his party’s nomination,” she recounted. “Thankfully, Fetterman does appear to be on the road to recovery. But self-admittedly, he exhibits lingering effects of his health scare; difficulty processing spoken language and occasional verbal stumbles.”

Because of these issues, he required the use of a closed captioning system during Tuesday’s debate against Dr. Mehmet Oz. This has made people nervous at a time when they are having to finalize their voting decisions based on the information available to them.

Mainstream media outlets such as The Washington Post have requested Fetterman to release a copy of his medical records to the public, but the campaign instead released “doctor’s notes.” This is a problem for Dr. Saphier.

“I am saying that these shorthand doctors’ notes do not replace comprehensive medical records allowing for independent confirmation of one doctor’s prognosis,” she explained. “The first doctor’s note was put out in mid-May stating that Fetterman ‘should be able to campaign and serve in the U.S. Senate without a problem.'”

Fetterman’s wife has also jumped in to run interference.

“Since that time, calls for transparency have only grown louder. Fetterman was seen during an NBC News interview using closed captioning,” Dr. Saphier reminded her readers. “On Thursday, Fetterman’s wife waved off questions from reporters at a public event with President Joe Biden in Pittsburgh.”

“‘We’re not here to do interviews, we’re here to celebrate,’ she said as her husband stood to her right.”

Despite the Fetterman camp’s best attempts to convince the public he’s fully capable of the job he’s vying for, Saphier has more questions.

“First, how healthy is Fetterman’s heart? By his own disclosure, we know that Fetterman’s stroke was caused by a pre-existing heart condition,” she wrote. “Specifically, he suffered from the undertreatment of an abnormal heart rhythm, called atrial fibrillation. Fetterman knew of his diagnosis, but he admittedly did not take prescribed medication to manage it. This ultimately led to the stroke.”

“Dr. Chen writes that Fetterman’s heart rate was ‘regular,’ but he did not comment on the rhythm of his heartbeat. President Biden also has atrial fibrillation and details of his heart rate and rhythm are fully disclosed on his annual physicals.”

“Second, how has Fetterman’s brain been impacted? The letter purports that Fetterman is cognitively fit to serve, but there is no mention that a formal neurocognitive evaluation was conducted to make that determination,” she continued.

“Third, what accommodations will Fetterman require if he does become a U.S. Senator? The doctor says Fetterman has no work restrictions – that’s just not true. We know that he uses closed captioning to help process spoken language,” Saphier said, explaining that the use of a closed captioning machine may not always be practical. Not to mention the lack of transparency from both Fetterman and his medical team.

Ultimately, she concluded, the American public and specifically Pennsylvania voters continue to have an unclear path ahead of them.

“No one outside of the Fetterman family or campaign has the information to determine with any certainty how well Fetterman is recovering from his stroke or what his prognosis is because certain basic information has not been made public,” she closed out her editorial. “In Tuesday night’s debate, Americans should not be led to believe otherwise.”


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