It seems Donald Trump’s personal physician is capable of writing a sane-appearing medical note after all.
In a letter released Thursday, Dr. Harold Bornstein of New York City’s Lenox Hill Hospital attested to Trump’s general health. In four paragraphs of dry medical prose, Dr. Bornstein offered evidence of Trump’s overall fitness, reported several test results, and gestured toward the longevity of the Trump clan as a whole.
The blandness of Thursday’s letter is in contrast to the parody of a doctor’s note Dr. Bornstein released last December. In that letter, he proclaimed that Trump’s physical exam showed uniformly “positive results,” which was an immediate red flag that it wasn’t a purely medical document. Medical providers reserve use of the term “positive” for when they find something, not when everything is normal. A positive CT scan when you’re looking for a tumor isn’t considered a good outcome, for example.
Puzzling, too, was Dr. Bornstein’s proclamation that Trump’s test results were “astonishingly excellent.” No matter how good someone’s test results may be, physicians rarely react to them with stupefied amazement.
When it was later revealed that Dr. Bornstein dashed off the letter in five minutes while a limo sent from the Trump campaign idled outside, it didn’t come as much of a surprise. Trump doesn’t seem the kind of patient who would wait calmly while his doctor wrote a letter, merely for the sake of making it appear normal. How else to explain Dr. Bornstein’s whopper of a conclusion: “If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”
Time travel not being on most accredited medical school curricula, no doctor can make such a statement with any authority.
While it is not to Dr. Bornstein’s credit that he was willing to put his name on an absurdity like the last letter, someone seems to have reminded him how to write a real one since.
Perhaps aware that his gravitas may be in need of shoring up, Dr. Bornstein begins by laying out his credentials, including graduating from Tufts University School of Medicine and being board-certified in internal medicine and gastroenterology. The hospital where he is on staff, where I rotated briefly during residency, is on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, and often cares for well-do-to patients. (It received some negative publicity for the extraordinary security measures it put in place when Beyoncé delivered Blue Ivy there.)
Dr. Bornstein goes on to report Trump’s unremarkable medical history, and lists his height as 6-foot-3, and his weight as 236 lbs. This yields a body mass index of 29.5, which puts him in the higher range of overweight but shy of 30, the cutoff for defining obesity.
That one risk factor for ill health notwithstanding, the remainder of Dr. Bornstein’s report depicts a 70-year-old man in good health. His cholesterol levels, blood sugar, and C-reactive protein (a measure of inflammation) are all in normal range. Screening tests for coronary heart disease and colon cancer are reassuring and, for those of you who care about such things, his testosterone levels are also within the normal range.
Trump’s only medications are a lipid-lowering agent and a daily aspirin. For good measure, Dr. Bornstein mentions that Trump’s parents both lived into ripe old age. The only reported fact about Trump’s medical history that seems to have been omitted is any mention of bone spurs.
All in all, it’s a professional-appearing report for an older man in generally good health. Nothing astonishing. Nothing that stacks him up favorably against William Henry Harrison. But a good health report.
Trump should lay off the fast food, but there seems no reason to question Dr. Bornstein’s new assertion that Trump is in excellent physical health.