Skip to content

A new push in Minnesota to unseal Lou Gehrig’s medical records

Oct 4, 2012, 11:00 AM EDT

Gehrig_1

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports this morning on a new effort to unseal Lou Gehrig’s medical records, which are owned by the Mayo Clinic.  State legislators are pushing to make them public in an effort to see if Gehrig’s ALS had any connection with concussions he received during his career.

This has come up before, and the effort was successfully beaten back by privacy advocates. The tack taken by the Mayo Clinic now follows those same lines:

The Mayo Clinic continues to have little comment, stressing that, under law, only the spouse, parents or Gehrig’s appointed representative have access to his medical records. “Patient medical records should remain private even after the patient is deceased,” said Mayo Clinic spokesman Nicholas Hanson. “Mayo Clinic values the privacy of our patients.”

Except the spouse, the parents and anyone else whoever had medical decision making authority for Gehrig have been dead for decades. And while I appreciate that the Mayo Clinic “values the privacy” of its patients, that patient has been dead for 71 years and has no direct descendants. Whose privacy is being protected here?

Fact is, we’ve reached the point where privacy of personal information has become something of a fetish. Sure, you gotta be careful with sensitive stuff which, if made public now, could cause harm, but really, you’d be amazed if you knew how much information is legally available about you right now to almost anyone.

As for Gehrig, if there’s even a moderate chance that old medical records of anyone — famous or otherwise — can help medical researchers today, and if there are no family members with vested privacy interests walking the Earth, I can’t see any reason why these amorphous privacy concerns should rule the day now. And I’m sure wherever Lou Gehrig is right now, he does not care a lick.

  1. vallewho - Oct 4, 2012 at 11:06 AM

    wrong

    • Ralph - Oct 4, 2012 at 11:14 AM

      What an intelligent, and extremely well thought out response! Thank you so much for posting, we’re all much more well off than we were before we read it.

      • vallewho - Oct 4, 2012 at 11:59 AM

        wrong again.

      • raysfan1 - Oct 4, 2012 at 11:25 PM

        Okay,gotta admit “wrong again” made me chuckle

    • sabatimus - Oct 4, 2012 at 12:04 PM

      I applaud the Mayo Clinic’s adherence to privacy laws, even if there’s no living descendant. Such information is not ours, nor should it be. If the Clinic decides to break this law under pressure, it sets up a dangerous precedent for future lobbies in this regard. So yes, wrong.

      • sabatimus - Oct 4, 2012 at 12:07 PM

        I also think that Craig is completely off-base when he talks about privacy being a “fetish” and that he’s sure Gehrig wouldn’t care wherever he is. Presumptuous and irrelevant. It seems you basically think the Mayo Clinic should break the law.

      • pauleee - Oct 4, 2012 at 12:22 PM

        Take note, vallewho. This is what a reasoned response looks like.

      • pauleee - Oct 4, 2012 at 12:30 PM

        My first reaction was, ok, no harm with that. A response of “wrong” doesn’t sway me at all. However, after a simple yet articulate response from sabatimus, I would have to say I agree.

      • deadeyedesign23 - Oct 4, 2012 at 1:00 PM

        I do as well. In addition I’m not sure what information would be gained here. Are we suggesting that there isn’t literally hundreds of other cases of ALS over the last few decades where people can investigate a correlation between it and steroids? If he weren’t a hall of fame first basemen I don’t think people would even be persueing it.

      • chew1985 - Oct 4, 2012 at 1:24 PM

        But what if significant medical knowledge can be gained that would lead to more effective treatment or lives saved? That is why medical schools obtain cadavers for study and research. That societal interest would outweigh privacy concerns in this case especially since there are no living descendants.

        As I write this, hundreds of cadavers are being studied, sliced up and photographed at medical schools across the country. Why no concern for their individual privacy? They signed away no rights, yet there they are, naked to the medical world. So much for “privacy.”

        Either everybody gets it or nobody gets it. Privacy is not a selective right.

      • jasoni22 - Oct 4, 2012 at 2:50 PM

        “As I write this, hundreds of cadavers are being studied, sliced up and photographed at medical schools across the country. Why no concern for their individual privacy? They signed away no rights, yet there they are, naked to the medical world. So much for “privacy.” ”

        That’s not true. As a medical student, all the cadavers we use at our school come from people who voluntarily agreed to donate their bodies specifically for that purpose after their death. We even have a nice memorial ceremony for them at the end of the year with their families and loved ones in attendance.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Oct 4, 2012 at 4:19 PM

        Guys — no one is suggesting the Mayo Clinic break the law. There’s a proposal for the law to change.

      • vallewho - Oct 4, 2012 at 6:18 PM

        If it’s wrong..it’s wrong. No matter how many words people use to rationalize it. Did I say that it was wrong?…not that’s trying to “sway” you.

    • Brian Donohue - Oct 4, 2012 at 12:43 PM

      A lesson for…um, debaters everywhere: Let’s be clear about the questions being asked of us before we opine or write or speak. Today’s questions are:

      1. At what point does personal information no longer belong to persons but to history or the general realms of social learning and science? Incidentally, there are numerous lawsuits and debates pending at this very moment involving this very issue. As the science of genetic technology increasingly matures, this will become a bigger and hairier deal.
      2. What can be gained (for history, society, science) through making such information a matter of public (or less private) domain? Especially if it is a matter of scientific knowledge, precision here is an absolute requirement. Let’s leave Ted Williams’ brain out of this, though, since it’s legally protected. But there are scientists who are very interested in the heart of a famous Polish composer of the 19th century (Frederic Chopin), which at this moment lies preserved in a jar that’s enclosed within a pillar of a church in Warsaw. But if you want to make a claim to study something that’s under the stewardship of others, you’d better have a better case than “we could learn a lot from having this…” And in a case like this one (medical records), you’d better have a plan on who can look and what (if anything) might be published or released to the public.
      3. What is the exact legal vulnerability of the owners or managers of that information? Here, it’s not enough to say, “oh, there are no living heirs left, so let’s dive right in” — when it comes to law, there is always more than meets the outsider’s eye. Law is expensive in more ways than one.

      My point is this: bloggers can’t answer those questions. They can pretend to, but pretense isn’t going to lead us to truth, let alone to moral certainty.

    • townballblog - Oct 4, 2012 at 1:02 PM

      Absolutely wrong! With all due respect, Craig, who are you to say that “I’m sure wherever Lou Gehrig is right now, he does not care a lick”? Not to mention the fact that, privacy aside, what right do WE have to know his medical history? Absolutely none.

      This is nothing more than a few folks in Minnesota trying to make a name for themselves and and satisfying their curiosity about an American Icon.

      Furthermore “”The only thing that would solve the mystery is an autopsy. The medical records will not be helpful,” said Dr. Ann McKee of Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy.” And there cannot be an autopsy because he was cremated.

      And here is an example as to why this does matter (and my apologies in advance, Craig; please know I’m just trying to prove a point): If your medical records are released 50 years after you pass away, as is the goal of the legislation mentioned in the article, it means ANYONE can see them. So, if fifty years after you, Craig, pass away (and here is were the apology in advance comes to play) we find out that had herpes since you were 25 years old, how would you feel about that today? Knowing that 50 years after you die people will find this out.

      What is the great service that will do to science? None, but it is a great disservice to you and your family. Your kids and your grandchildren will have to deal with this. People will look at them and say “your father had herpes.” Would you like that to happen to them?

      When people hear the name Craig Calcaterra they will not immediately think of him as an Atlanta Braves Fan, that incredibly insightful post he wrote about why Freddi Gonzalez should be a hall of fame manager, or how you were a diehard lover of all things Batman. No, the first thing that people will think when they hear the name is he had herpes.

      *Honestly I am really sorry about the example but I just wanted to stress my point*

      • thefalcon123 - Oct 4, 2012 at 1:20 PM

        ” So, if fifty years after you, Craig, pass away (and here is were the apology in advance comes to play) we find out that had herpes since you were 25 years old, how would you feel about that today? Knowing that 50 years after you die people will find this out.”

        Well, I’m not Craig, but I do love baseball and suffer the effects of male pattern baldness, so I feel qualified to answer this:

        How would I feel? I wouldn’t. I would be dead. I really wouldn’t care, at all. None. Not one iota.

        You know what people *will* read after you die? Your diary/journal/internet porn search history/financial records, etc. Which would you be more embarrassed for people to discover, the fact that you had the Clap or your subscription to WetnHairyAsses.com?

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Oct 4, 2012 at 1:59 PM

        Falcon, some people care about their legacy. Lots of baseball players do.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Oct 4, 2012 at 4:21 PM

        I would not care a lick. I’ve been dead 50 years. Who cares?

      • townballblog - Oct 4, 2012 at 8:05 PM

        So you wouldn’t care that someone could use sensitive information about you to make fun of your kids or your grandchildren? Granted I am sure they would be smart enough to say “whatever” and walk away. But still, you have to admit that it would bug them a little, if not emotionally hurt them a bit. Can you honestly say that the possibility of them going through that wouldn’t bug you the least bit?

  2. natslady - Oct 4, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    Really? They don’t make them available even to other medical researchers? And who, exactly, would they go to for permission?

    • bigharold - Oct 4, 2012 at 1:59 PM

      That’s not the point. The Mayo Clinic has a duty to protect their patients privacy. If they failed or deliberately circumvented that responsibility in some way the damage to their reputation would be staggering.

      In all likelihood it was Gehrig’s wish, .. or that of his wife or parents, .. that his medical records never be released under any circumstances because he was just a private person. Maybe there was something in them that he wanted kept secret because it might have been detrimental to his legacy. Maybe he just didn’t want them bandied about in the press. The point is he has that right and merely because he’s long dead doesn’t change his wishes.

      Moreover, absolutely nothing would be gained by releasing Gehrig’s records. Nothing! ALS is called Lou Gehrig’s Decease because he was one of the first persons of high public stature diagnosed with it not because it originated with him. There is nothing that could be gleaned by the examination of just his records. There were ALS patients before and many since so if researchers were looking for cases so as to develop raw data that could then be studied to determine a possible link with concussions don’t need his specific records. And, there is no reason to release them to the general public even if they did review his records. The addition or exclusion of one case is statistically insignificant therefore Gehrig’s records are not absolutely needed for research purposes.

      The idea that Gehrig’s privacy rights could be tossed aside because of, in my mind, a specious argument that he and his next of kin are long dead so whats the harm is a very dangerous precedent and reminds me a lot of when Dale Earnhardt’s family had to go to court to keep his autopsy photo’s out of the press. The only difference is Gehrig doesn’t have kin that can fight for his right to privacy.

      “Fact is, we’ve reached the point where privacy of personal information has become something of a fetish.”

      That is just plain BS. If anything it’s the other way around. People in general are far too caviler with regard to their privacy to the extent that they put themselves at risk without even realizing it. Between Facebook, Myspace, twitter and even blogs like this one, .. not to mention online purchasing, banking, survey’s and even something as basic as buying groceries with their ATM card people already put far too much personal information in the public domain without realizing it. If anything people in general should take a great big step back and make a prudent assessment of their public profile. I think most people would be surprised how vulnerable they are.

      • kopy - Oct 4, 2012 at 4:41 PM

        You’re right about Mayo Clinic’s duty. Also: Follow the money. They’re regarded as one of the best hospitals in the world. Lou Gehrig might not care, but if LIVING people notice that Mayo is cavalier about patient privacy after they die, the world’s rich and famous might take their services elsewhere. They’re the ones who care about their legacy, even if us John Does do not.

  3. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 4, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    but really, you’d be amazed if you knew how much information is legally available about you right now to almost anyone.

    Except that doesn’t make this request right. In fact, with the wealth of information available, protecting one’s privacy should be an utmost concern of ours.

    As for Gehrig, if there’s even a moderate chance that old medical records of anyone — famous or otherwise — can help medical researchers today

    Not sure how it would. There are already two or three major hospitals doing concussion based research w/r/t brain damage. How would adding one more person’s information, after violating his rights, help move us along the path? Are people going to suddenly start taking concussions seriously only because they learned that Gehrig died as a result of them?

    • Craig Calcaterra - Oct 4, 2012 at 11:12 AM

      Do you not think that people pay more attention to ALS because Lou Gehrig is associated with it?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 4, 2012 at 11:20 AM

        Of course people do, but the farthest they go is, oh, that’s the disease that Gehrig had. Ok, now what’s for dinner?

        Playing Devil’s Advocate, there are some rumors that Gehrig himself didn’t have ALS. That the possible multiple concussions caused severe CTE and he actually died from that. Now, what good would that do for ALS research, knowing that the one person it’s closely associated with didn’t actually have the disease?

      • natslady - Oct 4, 2012 at 11:22 AM

        Absolutely. And because football players are coming out of the woodwork–even so far as suicide, if I recall. This is not going to set any kind of precedent. No one’s “rights” are violated here.

      • natslady - Oct 4, 2012 at 11:26 AM

        Perpetually–don’t you think knowing Lou Gehrig didn’t die of ALS would be helpful? I’m missing something here. The more information the better.

      • thefalcon123 - Oct 4, 2012 at 11:27 AM

        “Now, what good would that do for ALS research, knowing that the one person it’s closely associated with didn’t actually have the disease?”

        I pretty sure you just put forth the Lisa Simpson/Hans Sprungfeld argument of the power of myth. I think it would do plenty of good to not associate falsely associate Gehrig’s symptoms with a disease he didn’t have.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 4, 2012 at 11:27 AM

        Absolutely. And because football players are coming out of the woodwork–even so far as suicide, if I recall. This is not going to set any kind of precedent. No one’s “rights” are violated here.

        Except these studies have been going on for years now, and yes it’s helped heighten the populace’s awareness of concussion based trauma, how does knowing whether one specific person suffered/did not suffer from concussions do anything to further science?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 4, 2012 at 11:32 AM

        Perpetually–don’t you think knowing Lou Gehrig didn’t die of ALS would be helpful? I’m missing something here. The more information the better.

        Help it how? How much do we want to bet that 75% of the people who post on this board don’t even know what ALS stands for without googling it? It’s a disease that most know nothing about, save that it’s what killed Gehrig. If you remove that one bit of information about the disease that people do know, how does this make things better?

        I pretty sure you just put forth the Lisa Simpson/Hans Sprungfeld argument of the power of myth. I think it would do plenty of good to not associate falsely associate Gehrig’s symptoms with a disease he didn’t have.

        /bravo

      • natslady - Oct 4, 2012 at 11:48 AM

        I’m losing track of the argument, but I think falcon made my point. It would be better to know what Lou Gehrig really died of than to be in ignorance, particularly because he is famous. (Unless you are the ALS charity that is expecting contributions based on his “name value,” that is.)

        If Lou Gehrig is a famous person who had ALS or If he’s a famous person who died of concussive injuries, both shorten lives and if they are preventable then he’s a data point, his privacy is NOT violated, do the research.

      • cur68 - Oct 4, 2012 at 12:37 PM

        I see what you mean COPO, BUT truth of the matter outweighs myth here. Concussion related problems occur far more frequently than Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (not only did I NOT look that up I spelled it right in one go: that’s last has gotta be a first for me). If it was some sort of concussion related syndrome, rather than ALS, that caused Gehrig’s demise then the value of that knowledge lends weight to a far bigger problem. Its always better to know than to not know. Anyhow, ALS has a perfect spokesperson and legend in Steven Hawking.

      • cosanostra71 - Oct 4, 2012 at 4:17 PM

        Craig, I’m glad to know that after you’ve died, I can release any information about you that I want. You’re dead so it won’t matter.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Oct 4, 2012 at 4:24 PM

        I really don’t care a bit if people find out every last secret I had when I’ve been dead for 50 years. As long as it doesn’t directly impact my kids if they’re still around.

        Why should any of us care if the truth about ourselves is known decades after we’re dead

      • mybrunoblog - Oct 4, 2012 at 4:35 PM

        For what it’s worth I’ve read two Gehrig biographies. One was more graphic than the other but from what I read Gehrig sure as hell had ALS. Not much doubt about that.

      • cosanostra71 - Oct 4, 2012 at 5:29 PM

        well glad to hear that Craig. Please make sure that your deepest and darkest secrets are ready for public consumption as soon as you have passed.

      • cosanostra71 - Oct 4, 2012 at 5:31 PM

        also, please never complain about the government listening in on your phone conversations without your knowledge or approval. After all, personal privacy is a fetish.

  4. mailman2504 - Oct 4, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    Because as soon as The Mayo Clinic cuts them loose, and a grandchild or great grandchild catches wind of it, it’s lawsuit time… They’d get their head sued off. Complacency has it’s benefits here. Don’t oppose it, but sue as soon as it it released.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Oct 4, 2012 at 11:13 AM

      Gehrig died without children. He has no direct descendants.

      • mailman2504 - Oct 4, 2012 at 11:13 AM

        ok then a 3rd or 4th cousin

      • blacksables - Oct 4, 2012 at 11:50 AM

        His wife inherited his estate. Someone would have inherited her’s.

        What the legal basis of how long somoene’s estate can be passed down to future generations?

        And if she died without leaving the estate to someone, what happens then? Does it belong to the state?

        If I remember correctly, (and I might not), copyrights and patents provide for this? If that’s true, wouldn’t a person’s estate be entitled to the same protection?

      • sabatimus - Oct 4, 2012 at 12:13 PM

        That’s a lot of good and valid questions, blacksables, but the only one I can answer is this: if the estate is bequeathed to no one, it becomes state property.

      • skids003 - Oct 4, 2012 at 12:20 PM

        There you go again Craig. The law is the law. It’s not our info to get.

        But again, the liberal mind knows what’s best for all the rest of us, let’s just pick and choose what laws we abide by.

  5. drunkenhooliganism - Oct 4, 2012 at 11:14 AM

    He played college football and played baseball without a helmet. Of course he had concussions. But why does Lou Gehrig have to be researched. There are plenty of other people who have died from ALS that have a family that can legally speak for the deceased.

    • natslady - Oct 4, 2012 at 11:19 AM

      I’m with Craig on this one. Not everyone who died of ALS was a professional athlete. No living person is harmed by this, and if it’s even one data point more towards helping people who have or could potentially have this devastating disease, I’m for it.

      • drunkenhooliganism - Oct 4, 2012 at 11:24 AM

        Time spent flailing their arms grandstanding for the release of these records could be spent researching thousands of others who have died from ALS.

      • sabatimus - Oct 4, 2012 at 12:14 PM

        No living person is harmed by this? You’re advocating violating federal privacy laws. This, to me, harms EVERYONE.

      • bigharold - Oct 4, 2012 at 2:23 PM

        “No living person is harmed by this, …”

        Nor will one living person benefit from it either. There needs to be a better reason to violate somebodies right to privacy then “what could it hurt?”. Because what it likely will hurt is the living. Rights are not to be trifled with.

        The inclusion or exclusion of one case dating back back 70 years to a time when medicine and medical research were far less advanced, would be insignificant. So there is no benefit to releasing Gehrig’s records. The only benefit would be the resulting the wild and likely unfounded speculation or perhaps a few salacious details. It likely would do more harm to ALS research than good.

    • larrytsg - Oct 4, 2012 at 5:14 PM

      I’m with you on this one. If they release his records along with a bunch of others who also had ALS and anonymize all the records, then it’s fine. If it’s just to have a peek at Lou’s records to see if we can learn something, then it’s personal, and that’s not right.

      My dad died of ALS (though he had it late in life, at age 70). He most likely had at least one concussion in his life (ah, motorcycling without a helmet, brilliant move Dad). And I’d have no problem releasing his records to help a study, but not just to go snooping around.

  6. stex52 - Oct 4, 2012 at 11:20 AM

    I’m a big privacy advocate for living people. I also am inclined to respect family wishes. But this is different. Could they not release these results with the stipulation that they remain anonymous as to findings? Then he becomes just a part of a study.

    • bluemalak - Oct 4, 2012 at 4:18 PM

      That’s the most sensible response I’ve seen.

  7. ndirishfan1 - Oct 4, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    If there is a link to concussions it should be shared but patient privacy isn’t a fetish…it’s a right.

  8. jayscarpa - Oct 4, 2012 at 11:47 AM

    The federal HIPPA law extends to deceased individuals with allowances for access to authorized individuals. In this case, with no authorized individuals, the federal law defers to state law.

    “Some legislators in Minnesota are vowing again to try to pass legislation in January to force the disclosure…”

    At this point a law has to change for Mayo to give up the records. State or federal, it doesn’t matter. The suggestion of a federal law opening records after 50 years makes the most sense to me.

  9. 1baseballfan - Oct 4, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    It seems obvious here that whether the records should be released or not is at least debatable.
    Given that, along with the fact that “Annually, ALS is responsible for two deaths per 100,000 people.”
    (from http://www.alsa.org/news/media/quick-facts.html) how important can 1 guy’s records be? Over a hundred thousand people have died from this since Gehrig died. There’s plenty of data without his. I don’t see how forcing his records to be released is defensible.

  10. brewcrewfan54 - Oct 4, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    Concussions have barely been thought of as an injury until the last 20. I don’t think much information will be gleaned from a guy whos been dead 60-70 years. This sounds more like curiosity to me than anything else hidden behind the mask of a medical breakthrough.

  11. cavemanna - Oct 4, 2012 at 11:53 AM

    No one has a right to his medical records except for him, his family, or whom he gave clearance to. Period. “but we could use the info!” . “but, it’s not your to use”.

    • protectthishouse54 - Oct 4, 2012 at 1:05 PM

      And it sounds like a slippery slope that The Mayo Clinic is smart to avoid.

  12. historiophiliac - Oct 4, 2012 at 11:53 AM

    I can’t resist a history nerd response — this is the kind of thing that researchers run up against all the time and it’s frustrating. Sans good evidence, we find ourselves trying to diagnose George III, Abe Lincoln and others with guess work after the fact. It’s even more frustrating when there actually is evidence but you can’t access it. Someday, some historian or medical researcher will finally get to this information. It would just be nice to have good guidelines for access so we don’t have to waste energy fighting in the meantime. The government has a rough schedule (with exceptions) for declassifying info. It would be nice if other sectors came up with workable guidelines as well. Blah, blah, blah, common good.

    • 1baseballfan - Oct 4, 2012 at 11:58 AM

      What common good? I don’t get it.

      • historiophiliac - Oct 4, 2012 at 4:43 PM

        I’m going to try not to go long here, but first I want to point out that it’s so fascinating how the posts here demonstrate the sense of privacy we have today. HIPPA was only passed in 1996 and although there were safeguards before that, privacy is really an invention of the 20th century. Your responses here reflect your own temporality. People 200 years ago did not share your thinking (and may not 200 years from now).

        In any case, aside from honoring the past by just studying it to know what happened (which gives a value to looking into Gehrig’s life & death), there’s the medical benefits, certainly. For example, we now know that the sizable casualties from the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 did not result from the flu itself. We can use this information to shape our approach to the flu season now and future pandemics generally, etc. But, there is more historical value too — looking at Gehrig’s records (in combination with others’ and with additional documentation) gives us insight into our approaches to medicine and treatment, how we prioritize and view certain diseases and the role celebrity plays in that, the privacy thing I already mentioned, etc. These things reveal a lot about the people of that time.

        As another aside, it’s very interesting to note the privacy accorded to Gehrig’s records and the lack of it given to Typhoid Mary or Anna Johnson (whose medical conditions were splashing in the newspapers of that day), etc. — which tells us something about celebrity, morality, medicine and professionalization of that period.

        This probably makes no sense b/c the topic is really is too complex for a short post and I ended up making a longer one than I wanted anyway.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Oct 4, 2012 at 2:05 PM

      Historical significance is different than medical research. If historical significance is the argument, there should certainly be a longer waiting period for exactly the reasons people would want the information.

      • historiophiliac - Oct 4, 2012 at 4:46 PM

        Why? We write history about events that happened 50-70 years ago already. Why is Gehrig’s information more sensitive?

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Oct 5, 2012 at 12:51 PM

        Because the law says so.

  13. gunpowderjones - Oct 4, 2012 at 12:07 PM

    I’ve been swayed by the wonderful arguments of vallewho

  14. mazblast - Oct 4, 2012 at 12:11 PM

    Those seeking the release of the medical records aren’t doing it for the sake of research. They’re just common ghouls, trying to stir the pot in hopes of getting more $$$ for their particular cause or to otherwise further their agenda. I doubt that they give the first damn about ALS or concussions.

  15. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Oct 4, 2012 at 2:08 PM

    He would be a sexy data point in their research, but still only a single data point. There is nothing to be learned from his records that could not be found in other records, except some attention and notoriety.

    As for reasons why his info should not be released? Let’s imagine they determine he actually dies of syphilis. What changes, except the legacy of a great player who has become a beacon for attention for ALS?

  16. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Oct 4, 2012 at 2:11 PM

    Sorry to double post, but this just occurred to me: Sometimes a lawyer divulges privileged client information to another lawyer while seeking advice. It is my understanding that privilege is the extended to the second lawyer, and that the first lawyer did not violate the attorney-client privilege by disclosing info to the second lawyer.

    Is there nothing similar in doctor-patient privilege? Am I way off base? Are the researchers doctors?

  17. charlton62 - Oct 4, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    This seems ridiculous to me.
    1) They never considered concussions & effects back then.
    2) Medicine was poor in comparison to today; although it ain’t all that now…
    3) The records were sealed – what happened to personal privacy?
    4) So, the long dead have no privacy? When does that go into effect, when it involves archaeologists?
    5) Haven’t there been enough modern cases of ALS that could invite modern research, in real time, on a living person?
    6) Haven’t there been many ALS cases where the person was just a college professor, or bus driver; someone who never played a contact sport or got hit in thier lives?
    Leave Lou’s private information alone.

  18. bluemalak - Oct 4, 2012 at 4:14 PM

    Of course many people who’ve never played contact sports have ALS, but that’s not the only way to get a concussion. I had an outdoor light fall on my head when I was 20 while at work, my son drove a bike headfirst into a concrete wall when he was 5 and my granddaughter was sledding and hit a barn, all of which caused concussions. If there is some connection between ALS and concussions, it would be nice to know. On the other hand, I’m sure they could study medical records of other patients who had ALS, who still have family to approve it.

  19. lazlosother - Oct 4, 2012 at 8:37 PM

    One of the big problems here is that Gehrig was cremated. His remains are gone. Given that there is very little to be learned from his records. This is more of a political than a medical argument.

    While I am all for medical research, I am not for ignorant politicians seizing an issue to advance a policy they can’t understand or appreciate. Interesting note, even if they change the law the Mayo doesn’t have to provide the info. As it will offer very little if anything in terms of knowledge, they probably won’t.

  20. raysfan1 - Oct 4, 2012 at 11:50 PM

    I tend to fall on the side of continuing to protect Gehrig’s information. Records can be used for research when sanitized of all information identifiable to the individual, but that research is not public either, and that is the real issue here. Plus, there is very little that anyone is likely to garner in medical research from his records. There were no MRIs or CT scans back then, for example. If there are tissue biopsies, then confirmation of the diagnosis of ALS might be doable, but that is about it.

    If they wanted to see about a connection between ALS and concussions or CTE, a more modern victim, such as Catfish Hunter, would make more sense.

    Individual medical records should not be made public unless expressly okay’d by the individual or their designee. Ever.

  21. drewsylvania - Oct 5, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    So we’re now de-sanctifying the dead to satisfy our curiosity?

    Any more unpopular opinions you want to voice, Craig?

  22. drewsylvania - Oct 5, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    What could be accomplished with Gehrig’s remains that could not be accomplished with the remains of another sufferer who had given consent prior to death?

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

This was 'the perfect baseball game'
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. S. Kazmir (5175)
  2. G. Springer (3744)
  3. K. Uehara (3404)
  4. M. Machado (3174)
  5. D. Pedroia (2913)
  1. J. Reyes (2797)
  2. J. Chavez (2747)
  3. H. Ramirez (2720)
  4. T. Walker (2637)
  5. C. Granderson (2539)