Lou Gehrig, ALS, and the Patient Records Controversy

Lou Gehrig’s 1934 baseball card

I recently wrote here on my thoughts about waiving considerations of privacy for medical patients who are long deceased and revealing their names and opening their medical records to journalists and the public. The Minneapolis Star Tribune has just published a fascinating article by Mike Kaszuba about a current controversy over the disposition of the medical records of the baseball star Lou Gehrig, who contracted and lent his name to ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), a debilitating and ultimately fatal neurological disease.

But is it possible that Gehrig, who died in 1941, never had ALS? Some researchers speculate that his neurological symptoms resulted from repeated head concussions. They argue that the Mayo Clinic, where Gehrig was diagnosed and treated, should release his medical records to shed light on what actually ended his life. Citing patient privacy laws and policies, the Clinic has refused.

Read about the dispute and decide for yourself: More than 70 years after his death, should Lou Gehrig’s medical records be opened to the public?

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