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Principles of Liability for Athletic Trainers: Managing Sport-Related Concussion

, : Principles of Liability for Athletic Trainers: Managing Sport-Related Concussion. Journal of Athletic Training 36(3): 316-321

OBJECTIVE: To provide an overview of the general legal principles of negligence for sports medicine professionals and apply these principles to situations involving athletes with head injury. DATA SOURCES: Case law dating back to 1976 and recent studies of sport-related concussion. SUMMARY: One of the most difficult problems facing athletic trainers and team physicians is the recognition and treatment of sport-related concussion. Providing medical clearance for sports participation and treatment of athletic injuries involves legal as well as medical issues. The threat of lawsuits exists for the sports medicine professional, whether the athlete is allowed to play or not. In general, established medical malpractice principles govern claims by athletes for injury or death caused by improper treatment by health care providers. The elements of negligence are examined, as well as the primary defenses an athletic trainer would use in court and risk management techniques to avoid litigation. CONCLUSIONS/RECOMMENDATIONS: Athletic trainers may protect themselves from liability by including standardized cognitive or postural stability testing in preparticipation examinations, using objective tests rather than subjective judgement to evaluate athletes who have sport-related concussion, working closely with physicians, and keeping excellent records.


PMID: 12937503

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