Former New York Yankee Lou Gehrig died 71 years ago from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, now known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Now some legislators in Minnesota want to make his medical records, maintained at the Mayo Clinic, public. A story in the Star Tribune raises the question of how long a patient's personal health information is private after the patient's death. According to the Mayo Clinic, "only the spouse, parents, or Gehrig's appointed representative have access to his medical records." Phyllis Khan, a Minnesota state Representative, has proposed a state law which would not prohibit the release of medical records of someone who has been dead at least 50 years, does not have a will that blocks the records release, and does not have any direct descendants objecting. A similar proposed federal regulation is also under discussion. Advocates stress that access to medical records after a period of time has elapsed could assist scientific research. The slugger who described himself as the luckiest man on the face of the earth may have more to contribute to privacy regulation, and perhaps medical science. Stay tuned.
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