Confidentiality under Threat in English Professional Football Clubs
Journal of Sports Medicine study
culture and intense media and commercial pressures have seriously undermined the
ethos of patient confidentiality in English professional football clubs, finds a
study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
is despite guidelines issued by the British Olympic Association, the Football
Association, and the British Medical Association, which clearly state that the
duty of confidentiality of medical staff overrides that of their contractual
obligations to their employers.
of Leicester researchers acting on behalf of the Professional Footballers
Association surveyed 58 club doctors, and held face to face interviews with an
additional 12 club doctors, 10 club physiotherapists, and 27 current and former
found that there was no commonly observed code of ethics governing the way in
which confidential issues were handled. And the amount and type of information
about players that club doctors and physiotherapists freely passed on to
managers varied enormously.
were more often guilty of failing to respect patient confidentiality than
doctors. But concerns were raised by the ethical behaviour of some of the club
doctors. One case involved a doctor threatening to use the information he had
about a player's medical record to advance the interests of the club over, and
against those, of the player.
that particular case the player said that although he could not excuse the
doctor's behaviour, he thought that he had probably been acting under great
pressure from the club chairman.
club doctor, also a GP, said that unlike general practice, "inside a
football club it seems like everybody else thinks they have the right to know
what's going on before the player does, and when I have had disagreements with
managers, it's usually been around this issue."
physiotherapist said: "The problem is that I am employed by the football
club. I'm employed by the manger and if I withhold information which he thinks
he should have, then he would say that I wasn't working for the club or for
authors point out that the pressure to succeed is intense among clubs and is
felt particularly acutely by managers, whose position is often insecure and
short-lived. Of the 92 clubs in the English Premier League and the Nationwide
League, 20 replaced their manager within the first three months of the 2001-2002
is no reason to suppose that the problems we have documented are confined either
to football or to England," they comment. To enforce medical
confidentiality to the same degree as is practised in most other contexts, they
say, would require "a shift in football club culture, which
Dr Martin Roderick, Centre for Research into Sport and Society, University of
Leicester, Leicester, UK Telephone: +44 (0)116 252 5941; Mobile: +44 (0)7970 052
333; HOME: 0116 270 0358 Email: email@example.com
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