Schefter says he “could and should have done more” before posting JPP medical records

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Somehow, the story of a franchise-tagged defensive end losing a finger took a back seat on Wednesday night to the way the story emerged. In the aftermath of the news, first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, that doctors were removing the index finger from the right hand of Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, terms like “Pierre-Paul” or “JPP” weren’t trending on Twitter.

“HIPAA” was trending on Twitter.

And for good reason. Schefter opted not only to report the fact that the finger was being amputated, but also to post on Twitter an image of the raw medical record — a medical record that also included information regarding another patient’s procedure.

The four-letter network issued a seven-word statement defending the move on Wednesday night, and Schefter previously said nothing about the situation. He has now addressed the matter with Richard Deitsch of SI.com.

“I know news organizations are not governed by HIPAA laws, but in hindsight I could and should have done even more here due to the sensitivity of the situation,” Schefter told Deitsch. “We’ve got a great group of editors and production staff, and I could have leaned on them even more.”

The contrition is admirable, but the rest of the article doesn’t convey a sense that Schefter would have done things differently even with the benefit of ESPN’s editors and production staff.

“It didn’t look to me as if there was anything else in there that could be considered sensitive,” Schefter said. “NFL reporters report on all kinds of medical information on a daily basis. That’s part of the job. The only difference here was that there was a photo.”

Schefter also explained that the photo was delivered to him unsolicited, which tends to support the theory that the leak came from Pierre-Paul’s camp and not from a hospital employee in Miami, who presumably would have had no way to quickly reach Schefter. Even so, the fact that the record as tweeted by Schefter included information relating to another patient suggests that the initial disclosure wasn’t an authorized release from Pierre-Paul’s chart. And even if the information came from someone who works for Pierre-Paul, anything other than a signed release from Pierre-Paul (who at the time was in surgery) makes the hospital vulnerable to a HIPAA violation and an invasion of privacy claim.

These complications underscore the point we’ve made from the get go. ESPN gained nothing by publishing the medical record. No one was going to doubt Schefter. Instead, others in the media would have scrambled to confirm the report, with a stream of tweets like this: “As @AdamSchefter said, JPP is having his right index finger amputated.”

So why post the image of the medical record?

“[I]n a day and age in which pictures and videos tell stories and confirm facts, in which sources and their motives are routinely questioned, and in which reporters strive to be as accurate as possible, this was the ultimate supporting proof,” Schefter told Deitsch.

Actually, the “ultimate supporting proof” would have been video of the surgery itself, and some have joked that this will be the next step down the slippery slope of disclosing medical information. Which serves only to underscore the point that “ultimate supporting proof” really isn’t needed in these situations.

If anyone had doubted Schefter’s initial report, the “ultimate supporting proof” would have come via the string of confirmations on Twitter and elsewhere. Absent that, the “ultimate supporting proof” wouldn’t have been a medical record containing sensitive and private information about Pierre-Paul and another patient but the fact that Pierre-Paul eventually would have been seen in public with four fingers on his right hand.

It’s good that Schefter told his story, albeit to a friendly ear. But the questions, the answers, and the paragraph of post-interview analysis don’t address the core question of why it was necessary to supplement the information being reported with a photo of a medical record containing the information. They also don’t address the fact that medical information regarding another patient appeared on the photo.

Those are questions that eventually may be addressed in court, regardless of who the specific defendants (and plaintiffs) may be.

43 responses to “Schefter says he “could and should have done more” before posting JPP medical records

  1. Either his lawyers got to him, he realized it’s gonna damage his standing in NFL circles, or he felt it was morally wrong.

    Good guy it seems but it feels like he fell prey to the social media beast of the times.

  2. Well, at least he didn’t report that he was dead. Can you imagine? Oh wait…

    People make mistakes. I’m not sure why everyone is ready to crucify him. As you point out, the medical record doesn’t really provide anything more private than what was already being reported, so I’m not sure why all the hoopla.

  3. I wish reporters and media would realize that we fans don’t care who got to the scene first. We just want the news.

    I have never read an article and thought to myself, “wow, Schefter got to it first? awesome”.

  4. A photo being delivered unsolicited does not mean it was handed to him directly. His twitter, email and other forms of contact are all over for the public to view. I have to ask. What would The JPP camp gain by passing on a medical transcript. I see no gain at all. IMO it came from a fanatical person that works for the hospital.

  5. stealthjunk says:
    Jul 12, 2015 10:51 PM
    Well, at least he didn’t report that he was dead. Can you imagine? Oh wait…

    People make mistakes. I’m not sure why everyone is ready to crucify him. As you point out, the medical record doesn’t really provide anything more private than what was already being reported, so I’m not sure why all the hoopla.

    _______________

    It’s not about what was on the report it’s the levels to which people will stoop for a story. Especially, when it isn’t that serious. He could have simply left it as the usual “sources say…” But, a person’s medical record is private and the fact that they got access to it…makes one wonder what he left out…or what he could have reported if there was something incriminating in the medical record. All for a buck.

  6. This is what is insidious about the process. This is what the public finds indigestible. You people covering obvious indiscretions with rank supposition. The attempts at rationalization is what is offensive. Why can’t you folks see that?

  7. How do people not see what’s wrong with this? JPP obviously wanted to keep this as quiet as possible. He wouldn’t even let Giants staff come see him. But Schefter thinks it’s alright to straight up post a picture of his private medical records? For one, everyone should know medical records are completely private. He could have posted “I’ve heard from my sources…” And not posted private records. For two, it just feels wrong to do in general when you know the guy is obviously embarrassed and is trying to keep it quiet.

  8. Boy do I hope that somehow my personal medical record got transferred to that hospital in Florida and I’m the “other patient” that’s in that photo…

    Anybody know a good lawyer?

  9. Schefter also explained that the photo was delivered to him unsolicited, which tends to support the theory that the leak came from Pierre-Paul’s camp and not from a hospital employee in Miami, who presumably would have had no way to quickly reach Schefter.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Nice theory but it is almost certainly wrong. The document was an internal document, not a patient record. In all the times you have been to the doctor or hospital, have you ever been given a document with other patients’ data on it? There was a HIPAA violation by someone at the hospital. Patients are allowed to get documents pertaining only to themselves. It sounds like the document was a doctor’s or ward’s or operating room schedule. Those are not just handed out to patients or their representatives. As for being unable to contact Schefter, I would assume that anyone as involved in social media as he is can be contacted by darn near anyone quite easily.

  10. He didn’t feel it was sensitive enough matter? Hey clown! You don’t make that decision. It doesn’t matter if you have a medical record that JPP has a mild case of Diarhea, it’s protected. I hope he gets the axe for this and is made an example out of so these bozo journalists who take themselves way too seriously can think twice before doing crap like this again.

  11. In an ERA where ESPN is more concerned about who gets credit for any given news article than the actual news, it came as no surprise that it was Schefter who broke the story in such a manner. He beat his fellow attention junkie buddy Chris Mortenson out on this one.

    The ESPN I grew up on is long gone.

  12. If he could’ve, and didn’t, and then someone else did (and wouldve) he would lose credibility as an insider by not breaking the story first.

    The rush to be first to break news is what gets these guys in the media their reputation,and the trust of other contacts behind the scenes. It also allows them to make their employers more money through being the first source to check as far as the ESPN website etc. The rush to break confirmed news with proof is even a bigger prize.

  13. It would seem to be a fair conclusion that JPP leaked this out. Had he not approved of this being published, someone from his camp would have expressed condemnation or disappointment or something.

    But, not even a peep.

  14. He just doesn’t get it. It was none of his business. He was not authorized to have the information. Just because he received the information didn’t authorize him to publish it.
    And because he doesn’t understand this basic bit of decency and propriety, I really hope he is sued. Apparently money and/or notoriety are the only thing that motivate him. A good law suit should help.

  15. Florio, you say the leak came from JPP’s camp? One of the images was a photo of a computer screen. How would they have access to that hospital computer?

  16. So Schefter knowingly accepted and utilized stolen material. Do you think Schefter would have published any medical records of John Skipper (ESPN CEO) without first reaching out to John, to ask if it was O.K. to do so? No Class on the part of Schefter or ESPN.

  17. My brother lost a finger at a young age. I held my dad as he cried. This was a very trying time for our family, as a guitar player hoping to be an air force pilot had both dreams and hobbies shattered in an instant. This is bigger than an operation, or a broken bone. Legal or not, Schefter is a calous human being, and that info should have been passed along by JPP to loved ones, then ultimately the fans, not Schefter posting a stonel chart on twitter. Is a man not allowed to grieve for a a life he will have to re learn, without a butthole reporter snooping around and trying to profit on his loss?

    Despicable.

  18. C’mon guys – in the age of Photoshop contests and PDF editors, am I the only one who recognizes the fact that Schefter and ESPN could have edited/redacted the medical records, but chose not to out of laziness? I used to do that when I was a journalist, and do it as a lawyer all the time. Let’s not pretend that he and ESPN are wholly unaware of Photoshop and PDF editors.

  19. JPP has not got a disease, it was not like anyone did something embarrassing to him. He is a moron who blew his own hand up. It is not like nobody would notice a missing finger while coaching, watching or during a physical prior to making a contract offer.

  20. Let’s face the fact that ESPN has crossed the line from reporting the news to becoming part of it.

    Brady and the Patriots and the supposed collusion the Cowboys and Broncos are being accused of are just the most recent examples.

    Why bother with facts when you can refer to “unnamed sources” and say or write whatever you wish?

  21. “These complications underscore the point we’ve made from the get go. ESPN gained nothing by publishing the medical record”

    But why did this site originally link to the image in a previous post that feigned outrage about it?

  22. Can’t wait until JPP sues the Hsopital but more importantly ESPN for invasion of his privacy! They deserves it….

  23. So the shifty media is in charge of explaining why one of it’s members showed no heart or respect for JPP and the other patient? This is what needs to be done about this…all NFL players shun Schefter and all fans tune him out whenever he’s on. The guy will be operating a deli in 3 months.

  24. Unless the JPP camp comes forward later and admits that they were the source of the leak (which I personally highly doubt), Schefter burned a lot of NFL bridges with this one.

  25. “So why post the image of the medical record?”

    Because certain members of the media have egos as large as any wide receiver diva in the NFL. Attaining personal personal success (at least what they perceive as success) trumps all else.

  26. It doesn’t seem to bother him that the hospital that had this info stolen from them will also get in trouble along with the actual thief, assuming that JPP wasn’t the one to approve this leak.
    I guess that lack of broader perspective is what makes Shefter good at what he does.

    Shefter was already among the best, most respected and most accurate insiders before this; less so now.
    Ironic, is it not?

  27. JPP has a right to privacy. It is the hospitals responsibility to ensure the privacy. That’s why media does not fall under “HIPPA laws. If Schefter doesn’t release it someone else does. Shoot the messenger if it makes you feel better. The real problem lies before A.S. ever received those medical records.

  28. Throw all the mea culpas you want, Schefter, but you knew it was wrong before you did it and you can’t in-ring a bell. Is ‘sleazy’ also trending on Teitter?

  29. If one of JPP’s people is actually responsible for delivering this information to Schefter, then nobody is getting sued. The hospital is not on the hook for info that he gives to his family/friends; likewise, what they choose to do with it is their choice, not the hospital’s.

  30. Ah ESPN the Jerry Springer show of sports news. I used to watch solely because of Erin Andrews now I watch to see which sportscaster will top the next in the moron Olympics.

  31. Mr Schefter said “I know news organizations are not governed by HIPAA laws, but in hindsight I could and should have done even more here due to the sensitivity of the situation,” Schefter told Deitsch. How about being governed by morality??? Oh that’s right there are no morals in journalism…Someone at that hospital is going to pay dearly as well as the facility itself.

  32. Schefter still doesn’t get it. His recent comments:

    “This was a public figure and franchise player involved in a widely-speculated accident with potential criminal behavior in which there was a cone of secrecy that surrounded him for five days that not even his own team could crack. This wasn’t as if some player were admitted to the hospital with a secret illness or disease — we’ve seen those cases over the years, as recently as this past year even.

    To me, that’s just doing my job. But I am aware of the thoughtful discussion it generated.”

    Which means? “I got a report on the total number of clicks I’m being credited for this report. If you think for one minute I will hesitate to do this again the next time I have an opportunity, screw you.”
    He doesn’t care.

  33. And even if the information came from someone who works for Pierre-Paul, anything other than a signed release from Pierre-Paul (who at the time was in surgery) makes the hospital vulnerable to a HIPAA violation and an invasion of privacy claim.
    ________

    So you’re saying that JPP can leak the information himself and then turn around and sue the hospital because his medical records weren’t kept private?

  34. Adam Schefter should be charged with privacy violations. There is a limit to what your job is as a reporter. Ethical or moral. When you can’t decide the difference, your up for the consequences. He is obviously an insensitive man with no moral boundaries. And should be up on charges and sued out of career with sports. It’s not up to him to release any records without signed release from person involved. If doctors have to get that release (By law), so should everyone else.

  35. Adam for some reason has a pipeline into all the transactions that occur in the NFL. He got that by gaining trust with the players, coaches gms, dr’s etc. He just betrayed that trust. If JPP didnt release that info to ESPN, I would sue them for all 4 letters of the network, completely unacceptable to post someones MRN. Even more so that it was released, but to post it on Twitter. Adam S, should have just posted that JPP was having his finger amputated according to Dr’s. Why post a Medical Record.. doesnt make any sense to the stroy other than saying “hey look at me, look what I got.. Im awesome”… BS

    cs

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