Impact of Lack of HIPAA Training in Sports on the Athletes’ Privacy

Guess what, professional athletes have privacy right too – even if they are famous. HIPAA, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is a national law that safeguards confidential patient information from being disclosed without their consent. Lately, HIPAA has garnered unlikely attention and engendered a hot debate on the importance of handling HIPPA rules in sports – especially after several breaches of famous athletes’ private information were registered.

Media’s Disregard for Privacy of Athletes

Privacy is a luxury rarely afforded to professional athletes. Many famous athletes have to fight through swarms of media personnel to have a regular at a local restaurant. The media always keeps them under the microscope and doesn’t bar them from publishing their private information – without seeking prior authorization – that can have serious repercussions for their personal and professional lives. It necessitates why HIPAA training for sports organizations covered under HIPAA rules is the need of the hour.

It’s not uncommon for the media to try tooth and nail to know every little detail of injured athletes including their prognosis and treatment. What’s worse is not an iota of regard is given to ensure the privacy and security of the athlete’s Protected Health Information (PHI). No matter how famous or rich an athlete is, they are humans and they do not place their HIPAA rights at the locker room door.

HIPAA training for sports organizations

Cases of HIPAA Violations

HIPAA rules automatically come into play when an athlete gets hurt and undergoes treatment. Not too long ago, ESPN reporter Adam Schefter tweeted the private medical record of Jason Andrew Pierre-Paul, who lost his fingers and was undertaking a treatment, without his consent. The tweet was subjected to a lawsuit under HIPAA violations which resulted in the firing of two health employees involved in leaking the PHI.

HIPAA violations have become a little too common in sports. The events that unfolded after a journalist published that Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott had tested positive for COVID-19, news, that he claimed was made public with his knowledge, let alone consent, gave rise to many HIPAA conversations discussing the lack of HIPAA training in the sports world.

Responsibility of Medical Healthcare Workers

The shocking cases of athletes’ medical data breaches show that HIPAA violations and athletes have an uncanny affinity for each other – sadly. However, despite so many registered violations, the exact HIPAA rules for protecting the athletes’ information are still up in the air since journalists and many sports organizations are not covered entities – and HIPAA regulation doesn’t apply to them.

It all boils down to the responsibility of medical officials to make sure all their actions are in line with HIPAA rules.

Final Remarks

To sum it all, it’s the responsibility of the doctors and medical professionals to ensure the safety and security of athlete’s private information. HIPAA rules oblige all the covered entities to get authorization from the patient before using or any publication of their data – and all healthcare representatives should follow this law without any exception. In this regard, the Covered Entities must provide necessary HIPAA training to the employees.