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Heart Monitors In Middle School Gym Class? 950

An anonymous reader writes "My son brought home an order form from his middle school. Apparently the 7th (his grade) and 8th graders are being asked (required?) to purchase their own straps for the heart monitors they're to wear during gym class. I know nothing yet of the device in question, but have left a voice-mail with the assistant principal asking him to call me so I may ask some questions about the program and the device. My tinfoil-hat concern is that the heart rate data will be tied to each child, then archived and eventually used for/against them down the road when applying for insurance, high-stress jobs, etc. 'I see you had arrhythmia during 7th grade pickle ball? No insurance for you' Has anyone heard of such a program, or had their child(ren) take part in it? Does the device transmit to the laptop the overweight gym teacher will be watching instead of running laps with the kids? Perhaps data is downloaded from the device after the class? Or am I just being paranoid? Thanks for any insight."
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Heart Monitors In Middle School Gym Class?

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  • Re:Holy shit? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Steve Franklin ( 142698 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:20PM (#29431533) Homepage Journal

    Clearly the school is afraid of being sued when some kid keels over from too much exertion.

  • by b4dc0d3r ( 1268512 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:22PM (#29431561)

    If your child has heart problems, the device will alert staff. Or, they could be like this guy and be on trial for manslaughter.

    http://www.wkyt.com/home/headlines/57036257.html [wkyt.com]

    Lots of others like him too. They probably just want to avoid lawsuits.

  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:23PM (#29431591) Homepage Journal
    Although this could be dismissed as paranoia, there are some serious concerns here. Do you have a legal right to privacy concerning your child's medical record, captured in a non-medical context, in a public school? Does HIPAA or any other law currently on the books presently address this? Do you have a right to be informed regarding the disposition of such data before it's collected?

    You had a good reason to consult the principal, if you don't get assurances in writing I wouldn't suggest that you allow the device to be used on your child.

  • by A beautiful mind ( 821714 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:35PM (#29431815)
    I sure as hell hope that Obama and the congress/senate outlaws denying insurance based on preexisting conditions. It seems like such an obvious abuse of the uneven patient - insurer relationship and an area sorely in need of regulation.
  • Re:Well (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 2short ( 466733 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:37PM (#29431873)

    And it almost certainly won't be tied to individual kids anyway. It takes a more expensive strap than they'll have you buy to have two work in close proximity, and in any case the transmit range is feet. They'll probably pass around one non-logging receiver. The only reason to have them buy their own strap is the sanitary issue. I wonder if they'll bother with the recommended conductive gel nobody actually uses? I can just picture being the gym teacher trying to deal with the social issues of getting a 5th grade class to go for the actual standard procedure: "Now everybody lick the strap and slap it on your chest quick before the spit dries."
  • Re:Paranoid (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SunTzuWarmaster ( 930093 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:53PM (#29432133) Homepage

    We had them in high school (Florida) to optimize heart rate. You were supposed to wear them during aerobic exercise (running track when it wasn't raining, jumping jacks and whatnot when it was).

    Seriously though, it was bullshit then and it is bullshit now. Your heart is a muscle, when you work hard it gets sore and it hurts, and then it heals stronger.

    Most people just took theirs off.

  • Re:Holy ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mcpkaaos ( 449561 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:29PM (#29432791)

    Actually no, I don't. I was recalling from my own experiences from when I was a kid and since. I stand corrected! Thanks for setting me straight. :)

  • by Bill_the_Engineer ( 772575 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:50PM (#29433085)

    This is a case of the insurer solely looking at the procedure code and not at the actual diagnosis. Your family physician has to associate a procedural code with a charge in order to be reimbursed for the test. The insurance industry looks at the procedural codes with the idea that if you were tested for a serious condition, the doctor may have felt that you have a predisposition for that serious condition. I think this practice is flawed in logic and morally wrong. A physician is less likely to perform a test on a patient if he/she feels that the patient may suffer some consequence from the test regardless of the outcome.

    However in the submitter's case, the middle school shouldn't be sending any claims to the insurance company.

    Regardless of how paranoid it may sound, it is still wise to ask how the information will be handled and do some research. Which is worse - Being ridiculed on slashdot for being paranoid, or being ignorant that something nefarious is happening to your children because you didn't ask?

    Though the submitter may not suffer the same fate as you did ( I think the information being collected is "harmless" ), I have to agree with you that it is better to ask.

  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @07:54PM (#29433861) Homepage Journal
    Doctors don't only drop out of medicare. They drop out of the various negotiated-price private health insurance schemes, and for the same reasons. Note the rise of concierge health-care for rich folks. It doesn't solve the problem for you and I.
  • Re:Holy shit? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lemmy Caution ( 8378 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @08:45PM (#29434353) Homepage

    OK, stories like this reveal a fascinating contradiction.

    The original question expressed concern that a child's heart rate and other health info would be used to either deny them health insurance or force them into a higher risk pool.

    But the libertarian presumption is that free markets with full information work better for everyone involved. The insurers want information that will enable them to remove expensive-to-insure people from coverage where possible, or at least to put them in a much more expensive pool. While they want perfect information (to make insuring people as low-risk and profitable as possible,) clearly the parents of kids who may have pre-existing conditions do not want that information available. Wouldn't the libertarian approach be to allow insurers to take every possible measure to get that information out into the open, so that they can tier insurance appropriately? Doesn't that mean that people who are loath to share their information are probably "free-riding" on lower-risk populations? Wouldn't that make the refusal of information (such as heart rates, etc.) a reasonable basis for refusing insurance, or at least charging a higher premium for it?

  • Re:Holy shit? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mr. Freeman ( 933986 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @09:00PM (#29434505)
    What the hell was wrong with stainless steel slides? Those things were AWESOME. Never had one at my school but there was one at my local park and I loved it.

    And fuck the waivers. What the hell has this country come to when we need people to sign waivers to RUN?
  • Re:Holy shit? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by z80kid ( 711852 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @09:18PM (#29434671)

    He can have my daughter's vagina when he wrests it from my cold, dead hands.

    OMG! My kingdom for a mod point....

    I'm about as conservative/libertarian as they come. But this post is the funniest thing I've read all day!

  • Re:Holy shit? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by slimjim8094 ( 941042 ) <slashdot3NO@SPAMjustconnected.net> on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @10:22PM (#29435113)

    I'm an EMT. I've seen that exact thing happen, to a 9 year old kid in a YMCA. It should have been found beforehand, but wasn't. Once his heart stopped, it couldn't be restarted (and this kid had just about the best shot possible).

    Heart monitors aren't the right answer. It's fucking complicated to interpret an EKG, computers can do a rudimentary piece of that - but the point of physical activity is that muscles are firing, so heart monitoring is absolutely useless.

    That's a complete non-sequiter.

  • by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:06AM (#29436525)

    I desperately wish I could make fun of you for your paranoia. unfortunately your concerns are terrible necessary considering this(USA) country's shift towards socialism and the opinion of governing bodies that they know what is best for you as well as the tendency to give corporations more rights than citizens.

    Seriously. W. T. F.

    The school is just telling kids how to monitor their heart rate. Back in my youth, we used to do this with a wristwatch and our fingers on our wrists or necks. They then use the numbers to make sure that kids learn how hard to workout to get the best results out of exercise and to make sure that kids aren't overdoing it -- for their own safety and health, the very things a PE teacher is supposed to care about. The only twist here is that they are using tools that can do the job better than your fingers and a watch.

    But, OH NOES SOCIALSIM! TEH EVULZ! You people don't even understand what socialism is and isn't as a purely economic policy (and how it generally stands in opposition to giving corporations more rights than citizens, btw) -- it's just the latest watchword for everything you don't like. Just sad.

  • by snaz555 ( 903274 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @05:36AM (#29437609)
    I was denied coverage some 6 years ago because of an "undiagnosed rash". I still have no idea why they decided I had that, or why a rash would be a reason to deny insurance, but I suspect they probably had a copy of old records since me and my wife had been covered by the same insurance company previously. She was denied because she had quit smoking too recently (3 or 5 years) - she claimed non-smoker, but apparently her old records said she smoked. There was no request for clarification, or an interview, or adjusting the rates. They just refused to insure us. So now if I we were to apply for an individual policy we'd have to disclose we've been denied insurance previously, which means we're probably uninsurable.
  • Re:Holy shit? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @08:44AM (#29438575) Journal

    Oh, the first sentence. Yeah, you're right.

    Thank you for the correction, sensei.

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court