Sports physicians approving players to play with concussions

A recent lawsuit suggests that the problem of concussions suffered by professional athletes may involve more than the way the sport is played or the equipment that athletes are wearing. It may also involve physicians that do not appreciate the severity of brain injury that can be suffered by athletes, and who release players to play again following a concussion without considering the long term ramifications.

A soccer player has filed a $12 million medical malpractice lawsuit against a team after the team reportedly failed to properly evaluate his injury. This follows a number of other lawsuits where players sued physicians and hospital chains for being cleared to play again after suffering concussions.

The problem with concussion like symptoms is that such symptoms can become exasperated if left untreated. This is especially true when players continue to participate in sports where the risk of trauma to the skull continues.

When a physician clears a player that likely needs to sit out play, it may be for one of two reasons: (1) the physician did not adequately examine the patient to determine if anything was wrong (failure to diagnose); or (2) the patient understood the risks, but chose to not act because of pressure from other individuals or organizations to have the player continue to play. Medical malpractice could likely be found under either circumstance.

In filing medical malpractice lawsuits, attorneys look to see if doctors are doing their job, and look to see if the doctors did their job responsibly. Such a task is easier said than done, and it would require a great deal of experience and insight into how medical establishments operate.

We’ve said many times that the consequences of failing to diagnose a problem only makes matters worse in the long run. Without a proper diagnosis, treatment cannot take place and the symptoms or disease only become worse.

Source: The Washington Post, “Bryan Namoff files $12 million lawsuit against D.C. United, claiming medical negligence involving career-ending concussion in 2009 MLS match,” by Steven Goff, August 29, 2012