Study: NFL should break ties between doctors, teams image

ESPN, November 17, 2016
Quoting report by Petrie-Flom affiliates Christopher R. Deubert, I. Glenn Cohen, and Holly Fernandez Lynch

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Medical personnel caring for NFL players should no longer report to team management or coaches, according to a Harvard Law School report published Thursday.

The recommendation comes in a 493-page report following a two-year study by The Petrie-Flom Center at Harvard Law School into the "various stakeholders who influence, or could influence, the health of NFL players."

"Our report shows how the various stakeholders might work together to protect and support NFL players who give so much of themselves -- not without benefit, but sometimes with serious personal consequences -- to one of America's favorite sports," said Glenn Cohen, professor of law at Harvard Law School and co-lead of the law and ethics initiative as part of the study. "NFL football has a storied history and holds an important place in this country. The men who play it deserve to have their health safeguarded and their health concerns addressed. We hope our recommendations in the report serve as a catalyst for this important work."

About 175 doctors work with NFL teams. While both players and teams have a shared interest in player health, the study notes that a player may feel compelled to return from an injury more quickly than recommended and that the doctor's role as a team employee creates a conflict of interest in making those decisions.

"The intersection of club doctors' dual obligations creates significant legal and ethical quandaries that can threaten player health," according to the report.

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