While using fireworks on July 4th, 2015, New York Giants football player Jason Pierre-Paul suffered a serious injury resulting in the amputation of one of his fingers. While this could affect the defensive end’s playing career, the bigger concern for many people was how the public was informed of this information.
Questions were raised soon after Pierre-Paul’s injury when a picture of his medical record appeared online, showing documentation of his finger amputation. The document, tweeted by NFL insider and ESPN reporter Adam Schefter, revealed the player’s full name, as well as a partial record and the initials of another patient.
Typically, health records must be kept private under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). For most people, their encounters with HIPPA involve a piece of paperwork every time they see a new doctor where the patient lists the names of anyone that the doctor is allowed to share their medical records with. Most people list a spouse, child or parent on this form and never think about it again.
The player’s information almost certainly should not have been released. Pierre-Paul had not previously spoken to the media and had not even let team officials see him to observe his injuries. It appeared that he intended to keep the scope and nature of his injuries private until a later time.
Doctors, nurses and all other medical professionals have a duty under HIPPA not to disclose your records without your consent. In addition to fines under HIPAA, releasing this information can open the hospital and its workers up to medical malpractice lawsuits. At this point, it is unknown whether the news organizations that shared the medical records will face any legal consequences. While HIPAA prohibits the sharing of private medical information for commercial gain under penalty of fines and imprisonment, it was written to apply to those in the medical industry.
At this time, it is unknown when Jason Pierre-Paul will return to New Jersey to train with the Giants or whether he intends to file suit against the hospital that leaked the information or the organizations that published it.
If a doctor, hospital or medical facility unlawfully shared your records, you have rights. The New Jersey medical malpractice attorneys at Seigel Law seek to uphold our clients’ privacy and help them recover damages after any type of medical malpractice. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced litigator, call us today at 201.444.4000 or contact us online.