The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.


Penn professors specializing in medical ethics warn against speculation of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s health.

Credit: Ilana Wurman , Ilana Wurman, Ilana Wurman

Democratic presidential nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did not have a great Labor Day Weekend, according to speculations by medical professionals on television and Twitter users.

During her rally on Monday in Cleveland, Clinton suffered a coughing fit. A couple of hours later, Clinton suffered yet another coughing fit while giving a press conference on the plane, according to CNN.

Clinton’s health has captured the attention of the nation through social media, with the hashtag #HillarysHealth already garnering thousands of mentions by the end of the day.

Celebrities have also taken to Twitter to voice concern, or rather criticize Clinton’s health. Actor and producer James Woods tweeted on Monday, writing “I feel badly she’s obviously very sick, but she can’t responsibly be president with serious health problems.”

Republican presidential nominee and 1968 Wharton graduate Donald Trump has also been feeding the fire that Clinton is secretly suffering from health problems.

Conservative media outlets have helped to further the spread of rumors regarding Clinton’s health. Medical professionals have appeared on the media outlets in an attempt to diagnose Clinton’s condition.

Medical experts at Penn, however, warn that doing so without examining the Democratic presidential nominee or even extensively researching her medical documents is treading into murky waters.

“There is no law against it. It is just considered bad judgement,” Jonathan Moreno, professor of Medical Ethics & Health Policy said.

For the majority of physicians, there are no legal consequences for giving such diagnoses of patients. However, even with no law against it, the credibility of the physician can suffer due to such claims.

Steven Joffe, vice chair of medical ethics at the Perelman School of Medicine, said that doctors who attempt to diagnose patients they haven’t properly examined are “treading on thin ice.”

Inappropriate long-distance diagnoses of patients who physicians have neither met nor seen in person have often been subject to debate. In 1964, Fact Magazine published a report that Barry Goldwater, then Republican presidential nominee, was psychologically unfit for president, on the claims of 1,189 psychiatrists who responded to an open survey. The Goldwater Rule was implemented soon thereafter, which forbids psychiatrists from speculating about the mental health of public figures.

Dominic Sisti, assistant professor of Medical Ethics & Health Policy, said that the rule prevents psychiatrists from giving diagnoses that may breach medical ethics.

Politics, at times, may use external factors that may be considered immoral to achieve the end result. However, according to the Penn medical ethicists, until the time that complete medical records are released, medical professionals cannot correctly or ethically judge the health of a public figure.

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.