Legal Issues in Athletic Training From Fundamentals of Athletic Training
Negligence • Negligence is a legal wrong characterized by the failure to act as a reasonably prudent person would act in a similar situation. • Examples: Not taking care of holes in the field or damaged equipment.
Gross Negligence • Gross Negligence has been described as a step beyond negligence. When an ATC fails to provide even a slight amount of care when needed. • Example: Not providing proper basic first aid.
Assumption of Risk • Not warning athletes of the dangers and hazards involved in sports can leave the ATC open to charges of negligence. • Athletes and parents need to understand the dangers of sport. They may result in injury and death. • Example: the back of a lift ticket.
Permission to Treat, or Informed Consent • An ATC must obtain the consent of an athlete, or the parent of an athlete, if the athlete is under 18, before performing any medical procedure. • Failure to do this may make the ATC liable for negligence. • Example: Medical release forms.
Proximate Cause • Proximate cause is described as a close connection between the way an ATC acted and the resulting injury to the athlete. • Example: Allowing an athlete to continue playing when a head or neck injury is suspected.
Avoiding Legal Problems • Have a written contract. • Use equipment that meets established safety standards. • Require pre-participation physical examinations. • Have all athletes and their parents sign an assumption of risk form. • Maintain CPR and first aid certifications. • Have a crisis plan. • Document all injuries and procedures. • Maintain confidentiality. • Build trust. • Check for hazards. • Stay educated.