In the wake of revelations about the condition of Jason Pierre-Paul, the Miami hospital treating the Giants defensive end for injuries suffered in a July 4 fireworks accident announced on Thursday that it is launching an investigation to determine who is at fault for leaking Pierre-Paul's medical chart to ESPN.
On Wednesday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Pierre-Paul had undergone surgery to amputate his right index finger. He also posted a picture of the player's medical chart on his Twitter account. A hospital spokeswoman previously said Pierre-Paul's family had asked that all information about his condition remain confidential.
Other media outlets reported that Pierre-Paul also underwent surgery on his broken right thumb, which now has pins holding it together.
Jackson Health System president and CEO Carlos A. Migoya issued the following statement: "Late Wednesday, media reports surfaced purportedly showing a Jackson Memorial hospital patient's protected health information, suggesting it was leaked by an employee. An aggressive internal investigation looking into these allegations is underway.
"If these allegations prove to be true, I know the entire Jackson family will share my anguish. Our nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals are passionate about our patients' health and well-being, and that includes the right to privacy. If we confirm Jackson employees or physicians violated a patient's legal right to privacy, they will be held accountable, up to and including possible termination. We do not tolerate violations of this kind."
The revelations provoked a wave of criticism of Schefter and ESPN on social media for violating Pierre-Paul's privacy under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, a 1996 law that protects medical records. But ESPN issued a statement that said: "HIPAA does not apply to news organizations."
Schefter and ESPN would be in violation of the law only if they actively engaged in an effort to obtain the records by illicit means. Otherwise, publication of the news is protected under the First Amendment.
Several NFL players expressed anger that Pierre-Paul's medical records had been revealed and others expressed sympathy for him. Atlanta defensive end Osi Umenyiora, a former Giant, posted a tweet that read: "Let's just take a minute to pray for JPP's speedy recovery. A mistake was made. It's done. He is a great man and a great player. He'll be back."