NFL doctors’ conflicts of interest could endanger players, report says image

STAT, November 17, 2016
Ike Swetlitz, quoting report by Petrie-Flom affiliates Christopher R. Deubert, I. Glenn Cohen, and Holly Fernandez Lynch

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From the article:

Doctors that work for professional football teams have conflicts of interest that could jeopardize players’ health, according to a report by Harvard researchers.

The report released Thursday, funded by the NFL players’ union, states that because doctors are paid by the teams, they may put teams’ business above players’ health interests. However, it doesn’t identify any specific instances when this has occurred.

League sources flatly denied the existence of any such conflict of interest, calling the report nothing more than an academic exercise.

Currently, NFL teams pay a cadre of medical staff to care for players on and off the field. Physicians and athletic trainers help decide when to pull players out and when to put them back in. Since those doctors and athletic trainers are hired and fired by the teams, they may make decisions in the interest of the team that are not in the interest of the players, the report states.

“[Players] are treated by people who are well-meaning, don’t get me wrong, but operate in a structure that’s infected with a structural conflict of interest,” said I. Glenn Cohen, a Harvard Law School professor who coauthored the report. “That conflict of interest is that they serve two people — they serve the player and the serve the [team].”

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bioethics doctor-patient relationship football players health study health law policy holly fernandez lynch i. glenn cohen