The value of your medical records can never be underestimated because your wellbeing and even life may depend on it. Importantly, they are valuable legal documents that form the basis of any personal injury case and are required for detailed medical records review. As far as individuals are concerned these records hold vital information of their medical conditions and overall health. Therefore it follows that physicians as well as others who have access to a person’s medical records do not conceal any data that may have a bearing on the person’s health. Unfortunately that is what happened in the case of Mike Peluso, a former NHL player. He revealed in a federal lawsuit that he filed in St. Paul that two of his former teams (the New Jersey Devils and the St. Louis Blues) “intentionally concealed” important neurology medical records that warned further head injuries could put him at risk of suffering recurrent seizures. Apart from seizures, Peluso, now 51, suffers from depression and dementia according to his medical records analysis.
During his 8 years in the NHL, Peluso suffered multiple concussions and had 8 grand mal seizures since retiring in 1998. He filed a workers’ compensation claim in 2012 in California. A recent decision from the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board commissioner shows that the New Jersey Devils kept important medical documents secret. They not only hid these medical records from Peluso’s legal team but also from Peluso himself throughout his career as a player.
- One document the Devils concealed is a medical report from December 1993 that confirmed Peluso had suffered a concussion in a fight on the ice.
- The second medical record is a neurologist’s report from February 1994 that described a post-traumatic seizure Peluso had, as a consequence of the cerebral concussion. It also went on to say that Peluso risked further seizures and brain damage if he sustained any more hits to the head.
It is shocking that the teams could do this to one of their own players when fully aware of the risks. Medical records such as the above mentioned ones are extremely important and come under minute scrutiny during medical record review for attorneys involved in personal injury litigation. So why did the teams do this? According to Peluso’s lawsuit the team allowed him to continue fighting in order to profit off the marketed violence of NHL hockey.
The concealed medical records came into limelight when Peluso was still part of a concussion lawsuit filed against the NHL by more than 150 former players. That suit which is also being litigated in St. Paul has forced the release of thousands of internal league and team documents. Peluso could successfully present those medical records in his California workers’ compensation case in which the New Jersey Devils were found to have “wrongfully withheld the documents.” A compensation appeals board found that the team failed to meet its legal obligations for two years by not producing the important medical findings.
Peluso’s case is traumatic. It reveals yet another risk associated with medical records that fall into the wrong hands. We hear of rogue doctors who alter medical records to hide their mistakes or procedures they may have carried out on patients without their consents. Doctors do not always give patients copies of medical consent forms, which leaves the system open to abuse. Patient consent for a particular procedure is indispensable, we know as providers of medical review services. Missing consent forms are red flags. In other cases, doctors are seen to alter consent forms of patients at a later date. In the light of many such untoward incidents, healthcare authorities are working to ensure that patient rights are respected and strong action is taken against individuals/organizations indulging in such unlawful activities.