Federal legislation is advancing in the U.S. Congress that would extend medical malpractice insurance coverage for sports medicine professionals when they travel out-of-state with the athletes they serve. The legislation is named the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act of 2016 (H.R.921) and was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives (the “House”) on February 12, 2005.
The Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act of 2016 (the “Act”) “[p]rovides that for purposes of medical professional liability insurance or civil and criminal malpractice liability determinations, a physician or athletic trainer (covered sports medicine professional) who is authorized to practice medicine in a state (primary state) and who provides medical services to an athlete or athletic team in a state where such professional is not authorized to practice (secondary state) shall be deemed to have provided such medical services in the primary state, provided that prior to providing the covered medical services such professional has disclosed the nature and extent of such services to the entity that provides such professional with medical professional liability insurance in the primary state.”
The stated need for the provisions and protections provided by the Act is that “[a]thletic team physicians, trainers and other health care professionals frequently travel with their teams to away games or other sanctioned events outside of the state in which they are licensed and primarily insured. When they provide such services, they are risking their professional licenses and subjecting themselves to liability that may not be covered by their insurance. This bill would ensure that their license and liability insurance covers them when providing specified services in secondary states.”
The Act defines “covered sports medicine professional” as a physician, athletic trainer, or other health care professional who is licensed to practice in the primary State; provides covered medical services, pursuant to a written agreement with an athlete, an athletic team, a national governing body, a high school, or an institution of higher education; and, prior to providing the such covered medical services, has disclosed the nature and extent of such services to the entity that provides the professional with liability insurance in the primary State.
The Act defines “covered medical services” as general medical care, emergency medical care, athletic training, or physical therapy services, but does not include care provided by a covered sports medicine professional at a health care facility or while a health care provider licensed to practice in the secondary State is transporting the injured individual to a heath care facility.
On September 12, 2016, the House passed the Act and the Act was sent to the U.S. Senate (the “Senate”), where, on September 13, 2016, the Act was read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
The Act, if passed and signed into law, would provide protection to health care professionals who provide medical care and services to athletes outside of their home state, and would also protect athletes who may become victims of medical malpractice committed by the health care providers who provide medical care and services to them when they are participating in out-of-state sports activities. Such legislation would appear to be a win-win situation for all those intended to be covered by the Act, and provide common sense protection to those persons who participate in out-of-state sports activities.
If you or a loved one were seriously harmed by the medical negligence of a sports medicine professional, you should promptly find a medical malpractice lawyer in your U.S. state who may investigate your sports medicine malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice claim against a sports medicine professional, if appropriate.
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