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ESPN showing Jason Pierre-Paul's medical records could lead to multiple lawsuits

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Who is going to get in trouble for leaking Pierre-Paul's medical records?

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The world found out on Wednesday night that New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul had his finger amputated as a result of a Fourth of July fireworks accident. ESPN's Adam Schefter was first with the information, and included on his tweet a picture of Pierre-Paul's medical records. While the information contained therein was certainly newsworthy, releasing Pierre-Paul's medical information without his consent is a violation of HIPAA.

HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is the law that governs, amongst other things, health and medical record confidentiality. A person must consent to have their medical information shared publicly. The NFL CBA contains a waiver of HIPAA rights, but that waiver only extends to a player's team.

How did Schefter get Pierre-Paul's medical records?


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Well, someone had to send it to him. It's unlikely Schefter himself was in the hospital snapping pictures of medical records, so someone else saw what was happening, took the pictures, and sent them out. Schefter may not have been the first person to receive the information, but he was the end point before it went public.

The hospital is launching an "aggressive" probe into how ESPN obtained the information, with a focus on its own staff, according to WPTZ News. Carlos A. Migoya, the president and CEO of Jackson Health System, said in a statement that an "aggressive internal investigation looking into these allegations is underway."

Migoya added that any Jackson employees or physicians who violated a patient's right to privacy will be held accountable, "up to and including possible termination." There's no word on whether or not a criminal investigation is also taking place, according to the report.

A source told Pro Football Talk that a lawsuit would be possible against the person who leaked the medical records, giving even more credence to the idea that Pierre-Paul's records were obtained without consent. Considering the message and the situation, Pierre-Paul's agent seems like the most likely source of that information. That means it's very unlikely Pierre-Paul consented to having this information released, and whoever did so, did so illegally.

So who's in trouble?

The person who originally transmitted the information is in violation of HIPAA, and can be subject to a fine of up to $50,000. That person would be the only one in legal trouble, however, as the violation doesn't extend beyond the first person to release medical information without consent.

The ethics of the situation are a different matter, but legally speaking, ESPN and Schefter are in the clear.