When New York Giants pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul injured his hand during a fireworks mishap over the Fourth of July weekend in South Florida, the star NFL player went to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.
Details of his stay at Miami-Dade’s public hospital system were supposed to remain confidential under federal law, but now the world knows that Pierre-Paul, 26, had his right index finger amputated — courtesy of a cable TV network reporter who posted a picture of the NFL player’s medical chart on Twitter. On Thursday, the hospital system’s CEO announced an internal investigation into the leaked records.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who covers the NFL, posted the picture on Wednesday night:
About an hour and a half later, Jackson Health employees posted two messages on Twitter:
It’s unclear how ESPN obtained Pierre-Paul’s patient record. But if he didn’t sign a consent form to release his records, then it is likely that at least one person — possibly a healthcare professional at Jackson — violated the law.
Jackson CEO Carlos Migoya issued a statement Thursday announcing that “an aggressive internal investigation looking into these allegations is underway.”
“If we confirm Jackson employees or physicians violated a patient’s legal right to privacy,’’ Migoya said in the statement, “they will be held accountable, up to and including possible termination. We do not tolerate violations of this kind.”
Patient privacy is governed on the federal level by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and administered and enforced by the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The law covers three entities: healthcare providers, such as doctors and nurses; health insurance companies, and healthcare clearing houses that handle patient data. The law does not apply to reporters who divulge patient records given to them by a source.
Migoya’s statement on the release of Pierre-Paul’s medical record alluded to “strict rules for those who handle patient information” and noted that the hospital system trains its employees on privacy regulations.
“Those rules are constantly evolving as technology changes, but always remain focused on putting our patients first,” he wrote.
HHS is aware of the incident, said Rachel Seeger, a spokeswoman in the Office of Civil Rights. The agency does not release information about current or potential investigations.
According to an agency database tracking breaches of protected health information affecting more than 500 individuals per instance, Jackson Health has reported three incidents since 2011 affecting 3,599 people.