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  1. J Orchard
  1. South Sydney Sports Medicine, 111 Anzac Parade, Kensington, NSW 2033, Australia
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Orchard;
 johnorchard{at}msn.com.au

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Databases of injuries in professional sport are valuable resources which should not suffer confidentiality restraints

When a doctor sees a patient and makes a medical record, there is potential for a dispute as to the relative rights that the doctor and patient have over this stored piece of information. The issue becomes more complicated when a third party such as an insurance company is involved. What about when more than ten parties are involved? How about when a professional sporting competition and a sponsor, on the advice of a research panel, pay a consultant to collect information from salaried team doctors and an insurance company on injuries that occurred to athletes at specific venues in the competition, and, as a result, the information is published in a medical journal and finally reported in the lay press? Is any of this information confidential? Can any of the listed parties object to the release of a report on the basis of their “ownership” of part of the information?

One of the fundamental ethical principles of medicine is that the doctor-patient relationship is privileged and confidential. In theory, a doctor treating a professional athlete should not pass on information on that athlete's injury history without the expressed consent of the player. In practice, professional team doctors do this all the time, and players rarely object. If Joe Bloggs, the amateur, is playing football and dislocates his shoulder, he can assume the right that his treating doctor will not pass on information about the injury to third parties not involved in the treatment. The situation is totally different if Joe Bloggs is a professional athlete. If he is being paid money to play football, then all of the parties involved in paying him the money (especially the viewing audience) want to know that he …

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