MLB FRONT OFFICE MISUSES PLAYERS MEDICAL RECORDS, EXEC SUSPENDED
By: Michael M. Rohde
This year’s World Series embodies the notion that the influence of an MLB franchise’s front office is the central ingredient in building a winning ball club. Teams spend millions developing young players, making shrewd trades and signing undervalued free agents. In building a medical negligence case, trial attorneys all agree that the most principal and essential element is the contents of a patient’s medical records. These two concepts do not often intersect, but recently a prominent MLB executive engaged in conduct involving medical records that would cause any healthcare provider to shriek, “What the heck was he thinking?”
In a tactical – and somewhat disturbing – ploy to gain advantages in trade negotiations, San Diego Padres General Manager A.J. Preller instructed the Padres sports medicine staff to deliberately withhold select medical information from the industry-wide medical database accessible to all teams. Following trades involving shaky health circumstances, an investigation revealed Padres trainers maintained two separate medical files for players: one for public disclosure and one for in-house use. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reported, MLB found that Preller’s tactics were utilized with the clear intention of gaining an upper hand in negotiations with other teams. Preller just recently returned from a 30 day suspension without pay.
By relying on these records, teams engaged in trades with the Padres could have asked players to outperform their capabilities, in turn risking injury and possibly millions in future earnings. Additionally, deals between teams were at risk of being deemed fraudulent. Ethical alarms sounded off across the baseball landscape. As expected, Preller’s practices evoked issues of trust between executives and enraged players, their agents, and fans.
Nowhere are issues of trust more prevalent than in the practice of medicine. Healthcare providers make daily life and death decisions in caring for their patients, therefore accurate and consistent charting is paramount.
Most medical malpractice lawsuits admittedly do not involve allegations of fraud or ethics violations as glaring as A.J. Preller, but this story serves as a reminder of the importance of clear and comprehensive charting in the practice of medicine. You never know when one progress note or order will make the difference. All patients, including ballplayers, deserve accurate and complete charting and communication.
The San Diego Padres finished this season 68-94, a record which was good for, you guessed it, dead last.