Page 75 - Athletic Health Handbook
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athlete to acknowledge that he or Even if the document does not provide sports medicine as in any other field.
she has received and understands this a legally enforceable bar to filing a Indeed, the unique relationships
information, and to accept complete lawsuit, it may serve to deter a player between team, player, and team
responsibility for playing despite these or his or her attorney from suing. physician make it especially important
risks. The form requires the player that the informed consent process be
to release the team, the coaches, the In any event, a clearly-drafted taken seriously by all those who are
trainer, and the team physician from assumption of risk form should involved in sports medicine. Likewise,
any liability or claim that the player generally be effective in providing teams and their physicians can protect
might have if he or she is further evidence of a player’s knowledge of themselves when athletes decide to
injured while playing. the risk and voluntary decision to play against medical advice by requir-
assume that risk and therefore serve ing the player to sign a clearly-drafted
Significantly, a waiver and release to counter a “failure to warn”-type assumption of risk/waiver and release
form may not be uniformly effective claim. Thus, it is important that the form. While the waiver and release
in preventing an injured player from terms of the assumption of risk form may not be always be legally enforce-
bringing suit against a physician or be clear and unambiguous, and that able, it may deter some players from
team, and it will seldom protect a the physician fully document the bringing suit, and, in any event, a
defendant who was grossly negligent, process of informing the athlete of clearly-drafted assumption of risk
reckless, or engaged in intentional the risks and other consequences of form, at a minimum, will provide
misconduct. In fact, courts will playing against medical advice and invaluable evidence that a player was
almost always interpret these kinds that the player decided to participate properly warned of the risks involved
of documents in favor of the party notwithstanding that advice. in playing hurt.
signing away his or her rights.
However, the document is more Summary
likely to be enforceable if it is written
in plain English and is not signed Informed consent is a staple of good
under physical or emotional duress. medical practice and a basic patient
right. This maxim is just as true in

References

1. See, for example, Magee JT, Almekinders LC, and Nath TN. HIPAA and the team physician. Sports Medicine Update.
March-April 2003:4-8.

2. Legal Case: Canterbury vs. Spence, 464 F. 2d 772, 780 n.15. D.C. Cir., 1972. d 495, 508. Wisconsin, 1996.
3. Rosoffs A, Pellegrino T. Informed consent in the electronic age. Am. J. L. and Med. 1999. 25:367.
4. Comodeca C. Acknowledgment of risk forms: the best defense for sports medicine practitioners. The Sports Medicine

Standards and Malpractice Reporter. 1992. 4(4):49, 51-44.

© AMERICAN ORTHOPAEDIC SOCIETY FOR SPORTS MEDICINE, 2008, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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