Rival Diet Doc Leaks Atkins Death Report

Dr. Robert Atkins

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Rival Diet Doc Leaks Atkins Death Report

Letter To Medical Examiner

FEBRUARY 10--In case you thought the rumble over the merits of the Atkins diet would have cooled following last year's death of Dr. Robert Atkins, guess again, bub.

A report from the New York City medical examiner--which was inadvertently provided to a Nebraska doctor who is vehemently anti-Atkins--shows that the 72-year-old physician had suffered from a heart attack, congestive heart failure, and hypertension.

According to his death certificate, the "immediate cause" of Atkins's death last April was "blunt impact injury of head with epidural hematoma." He was critically injured when he struck his head in a fall on an icy Manhattan street.

The references to Atkins's medical history are contained in handwritten notations on one page of the ME's document--"MI" for myocardial infarction, "CHF" for congestive heart failure, and "HTN" for hypertension. The document, first reported on by The Wall Street Journal, also lists Atkins weight as 258 pounds.

However, an Atkins representative, Dr. Stuart Trager, today attacked the Journal for reporting that the physician was obese, contending that after Atkins lapsed into a coma and lay in the hospital for two weeks prior to his death, his 6' frame became severely bloated--by 60 pounds--due to liquid retention.

Trager also criticized the dissemination of the document to the Journal by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which Trager described as a "group of Vegan and animal rights extremists." The Washington, D.C.-based organization, which is allied with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, was provided the medical examiner's report by Richard Fleming, an Omaha, Nebraska doctor and Atkins diet critic.

Fleming obtained the confidential report in late December after he simply sent a letter to the New York City ME asking for records on Atkins. In his letter, Fleming did not represent himself as having ever treated Atkins.

Ellen Borakove, an ME's spokesman, told TSG that the document's release to Fleming was a "mistake." She added that New York officials today sent a letter to Nebraska's Health and Human Services System, which disciplines doctors, to make them aware of Fleming's recent actions. (4 pages)