Injured Formula One Driver’s Medical Records Stolen, For Sale
Certain medical records of renowned Formula One racecar driver Michael Schumacher have been stolen and are for sale on the black market, according to a representative from Schumacher’s management team. The leak may have been traced back to a Swiss helicopter company that provides emergency medical assistance.
Schumacher, who sustained a serious head injury in a skiing accident in the French Alps last December, was put into a medically induced coma after the accident. Upon waking from his coma in mid-June, Schumacher was transferred from his hospital in Grenoble, France to another facility in Lausanne, Switzerland, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Schumacher’s family, management team, and physicians have been tight-lipped in offering the media and fans updates about Schumacher’s condition or a prognosis. The lack of information has driven European media outlets to go to great lengths to get—and ultimately sell—information about the racer’s health status. A tabloid journalist reportedly disguised himself as a priest in an attempt to be let into Schumacher’s hospital ward.
On June 23, Schumacher’s management sent out a press release announcing that part of Schumacher’s medical records had been stolen and have appeared to be for sale for several days. The documents were being offered for about 60,000 Swiss francs, roughly equivalent to $67,000, according to Reuters.
“We cannot judge if these documents are authentic. However, the documents are clearly stolen. The theft has been reported,” Schumacher’s representative said. “The contents of any medical files are totally private and confidential and must not be made available to the public,” the representative said.
Although the helicopter company, Rega, currently has no proof that one of its employees is implicated, it has filed a criminal complaint against an unknown person “out of a concern for absolute clarity in this case,” according to Reuters. Authorities have traced the IP address linked with the stolen documents, and it appears to have come from a computer at Rega.
Even though Schumacher’s family went to great lengths to protect his privacy—such as not letting medical personnel carry mobile devices onto transportation vehicles—the incident highlights the vulnerability of health data among celebrities.
“Medical records are supposed to be confidential, shared only between patient and doctor,” writes a BBC op-ed writer. “But not, it seems, if you are famous, not if your name is Michael Schumacher, and not in the 21st century digital age, where the perceived ‘right to information’ seems to defeat every other consideration.”
Schumacher, aged 45 years old, has won seven Formula One world champion titles, making him the most successful Formula One driver of all time.