Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R) on Wednesday challenged Capitol Hill attending physician Brian Monahan’s finding that Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s (Ky.) recent freeze-ups were possibly the result of dehydration as “misinformation” and “clearly not accurate.”
Paul said he also thinks “most Americans” are skeptical of Monahan’s claims.
McConnell froze for about 20 seconds at a press conference in the Capitol in July, then for about 30 seconds while answering reporters’ questions in Kentucky last week.
“When you get dehydrated you don’t have moments where your eyes look in the distance with a vacant look and you’re sort of basically unconscious with your eyes open. That is not a symptom of dehydration,” Paul told The Hill on Wednesday morning.
Paul, an ophthalmologist and eye surgeon, also questioned Monahan ruling out the possibility that McConnell may be suffering from a seizure disorder based on an EEG, or electroencephalogram test.
“The doctor said that they ruled out seizure disorder from an EEG. A normal EEG doesn’t rule out seizures. First of all, 25 percent of people who’ve had a brain injury end up having seizures after their injury,” he added.
McConnell suffered a concussion in March when he fell at a private dinner event. He was rushed to the hospital and spent time at a rehabilitation center.
“Now if you get an EEG and it’s normal, does that mean he doesn’t have a seizure disorder? No, that means that you didn’t find it because he didn’t have a seizure while he was having the test,” Paul explained.
“The bottom line is, it is a medical mistake to say that someone doesn’t have a seizure disorder because they have a normal EEG,” Paul said.
Paul’s comments broke sharply with other Republican senators who have accepted the attending physician’s medical findings without much skepticism or pushback. Senate Republican leadership has rallied around McConnell after both incidents.
Paul had also questioned Monahan’s diagnosis of McConnell on Tuesday while speaking to a group of reporters.
“I’ve practiced medicine for 25 years, and it doesn’t look like dehydration to me,” he said. “It looks like a focal neurological event.”
Monahan wrote in a letter Tuesday that he found no evidence that McConnell was suffering from a seizure disorder, stroke or Parkinson’s disease.
He emphasized that “there are no changes recommended” in McConnell’s treatment protocols related to his fall in March, indicating the leader isn’t suffering from a new malady.
But Paul said he’s concerned that by pushing out “misinformation,” the Senate doctor may wind up sowing further public distrust.
“My point is that I’m just trying to counter the misinformation from the Senate doctor. It is basically not believable to come up and say that what’s going on is dehydration. It makes it worse in the sense that by saying something that is obviously untrue, it leads to more distrust of the situation,” he said.
“It’s a very public thing. My concern is that it’s bad advice, bad medical advice that’s being put out there and I hope it’s not the end of the medical advice because the medical advice that I’m reading about in the newspaper is not valid and it’s not appropriate,” he said.
In a statement released last week, Monahan said he had consulted with McConnell’s neurology team and concluded “he is medically clear to continue with his schedule as planned.”
“Occasional lightheadedness is not uncommon in concussion recovery and can also be expected as a result of dehydration,” the doctor said.
Paul emphasized Wednesday that he has no reason to think that McConnell isn’t capable of continuing to serve as Senate GOP leader.
“I’ve had no indication that it’s affected him in any way that prevented him from being in leadership,” he said.
“My only quibble is with a diagnosis that’s clearly not accurate,” he said.