Sunday, September 21, 2003

Does HIPAA apply to the NFL?

As we all know, HIPAA gives patients a right of access to their own medical records. Right? Right. Unless, that is, you are a professional football player, according to an article in today's Grand Forks Herald (picking up on the story originally run by the Charlotte Observer). Under the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the players' association, players can see their medical records twice a year -- and never during the regular season. According to the article, DHHS isn't quite sure whether HIPAA applies to the NFL (neither am I: Is the NFL a "covered entity"? It seems like a stretch). And you would think that players can contract that right away for valuable (very valuable) consideration. But Boston University's George Annas is surely right when he says, "It's so behind the times. The whole country has been moving to open access to your own records, whether they're medical, police, credit or education records. No one would argue with that anymore.

"The problem with secret records is people are making decisions about you, and you don't know why. In this case, when you're talking about professional football players, (teams) could be making decisions about whether they should play or not. Their livelihood and future health could be at stake."
posted by tommayo, 10:16 AM

Health care law (including public health law, medical ethics, and life sciences), with digressions into constitutional law, poetry, and other things that matter