Study: NFL medical personnel should not report to teams

According to a recently released Harvard Law School study, NFL medical personnel shouldn’t report their findings to their respective teams due to conflicts of interest.

Harvard Law School concluded a two year study with a 493-page report that advised medical staff and personnel on NFL teams to avoid reporting their assessments of player health to other team officials.

The final report, formally known as “Protecting and Promoting the Health of NFL Players: Legal and Ethical Analysis and Recommendations,” cites that “The intersection of club doctors’ dual obligations creates significant legal and ethical quandaries that can threaten player health.”

Glenn Cohen professor of law at Harvard Law School and co-lead of the law and ethics initiative as part of the study, shared conclusions from the report with United Press International.

“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. 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.”

The report also went on to list a total of 76 recommendations that could be followed to mitigate the issue, one of which being a written “Player Health Report.” This report would include information regarding the player’s current physical condition, recommended participation levels in practice and providing a timetable for when the player could resume their normal workload.

Other recommendations made by the team of researchers was that doctors tasked with treating players should be decided on by a neutral committee with representatives from the NFL and the NFL Player’s Association. Likewise, the report cited that health issues should be left off the table in the next round of collective bargaining negotiations while also suggesting a new, short-term injured reserve designation for player’s suffering from concussions.

The report is mired in a bit of controversy. Harvard’s officials are adamant that the study was conducted without interference from player or league influence, even though the research was funded by the NFLPA. Per the Washington Post, NFL’s executive vice president of health and player safety, Jeffrey Miller, sent a 33-page response denying that NFL team doctors are faced with conflicts of interest in their work. He went on to describe the proposed alterations to how the NFL handles issues of player safety and its team doctors as “untenable and impractical.”

Legal and ethical issues surrounding player safety are the focus of new reports set to be released in the future.

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