Access to McCain's Medical Records a Joke

A hand-selected group of reporters (only 20 people) were allowed to access 1,173 pages of Senator John McCain’s medical records for three hours. No one was allowed to photocopy or photograph the records, but a reporter could take notes. Oh, also there were no cellphones allowed.

So, what do we know? Not much. The types of tests done to look for cancer recurrence were not revealed in the AP article I reviewed. We do know that the cancer removed from his jaw was of an intermediate depth. We also know that his lymph nodes were negative. This is about all the reporters could find out in the limited time allowed. If they read 1,173 pages in three hours, they would have to read a page every six minutes. You can’t get any detail from that. I’m not sure that we know more now than we did before the records were flashed in front of our eyes.

To be honest, this was a great political maneuver by the McCain camp: Release the information on a Friday before a holiday weekend, a slow news day, when nobody is paying any attention and then control what is said. The McCain camp got the exact headlines that they wanted. Reuters stated: “McCain deemed in good health by doctors.” The McCain camp couldn’t have written it any better.

Update: The McCain campaign has released a short summary of the Senator’s medical records. I guess they did this to quiet critics like me. There is still no thoughtful summary of the follow-up tests that have been done or their results.  It is clear that some tests would have been done to look for spread of his cancer. . To me, the only nugget of new information was that John McCain had another melanoma on his nose that I didn’t know about. That makes the fourth site that I know of.

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.


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