The very nature of sports means that athletes typically need to see a medical professional more often than the average person. Whether they are obtaining care for an injury or simply ensuring they are healthy and well enough to continue playing, athletes of all ages are frequently in the physician’s chair. Unfortunately, with more exposure to medical professionals as a whole, there’s more opportunity for medical malpractice in the field of sports medicine.
When Sports Medicine Malpractice Occurs
Sports medicine malpractice occurs when a patient sees a physician, often a sports medicine specialist, and fails to deliver the standard of care expected of medical professionals in this position. In most cases, sports medicine specialists can be a great resource for athletes of all types, providing them targeted care for injuries or helping them to achieve peak wellness with a focus on their chosen sport. Sports medicine specialists can help diagnose and treat problems that keep players off the field and can help prevent injuries from occurring with regular care.
However, when a sports medicine specialist or other sports-oriented physician is negligent or careless in their treatment of a patient, things can go from bad to worse. Patients with injuries may not heal properly, even to the point of never being able to play their chosen sport again or engage in normal, day-to-day activities. Or, patients may suffer outright abuse at the hands of their provider.
Examples of Sports Medicine Malpractice
There are many ways a sports medicine specialist can become guilty of malpractice, including but not limited to:
Failure to Diagnose or Incorrect Diagnosis
When a doctor fails to correctly diagnose an athlete’s injury or fails to make a diagnosis at all, the injury can become much worse due to not receiving the proper treatment required for the athlete to heal. For example, an athlete may complain of pain or limited movement after a fall on the field, only to be told that a break is a simple sprain because the doctor neglected to order necessary tests. The athlete may then heal incorrectly, causing chronic pain that limits their playing abilities.
Prescription Drug Malpractice
Often, prescription pain medication and other medicines are necessary after an athlete experiences an injury. However, it is the burden of the prescribing physician to dole out medication in a responsible way, especially when the medication has the potential to be addictive. Athletes with negligent or careless doctors who do not exercise caution when prescribing controlled medications may develop an addiction to the medication that impedes their performance or even causes them to miss seasons while in a rehabilitation facility. Another example of prescription drug malpractice would be simply prescribing the wrong medication or in the wrong dose, or failing to manage serious side effects.
Physical and/or Sexual Abuse
Unfortunately, the world is finding out that more and more sports medicine specialists are guilty of outright sexual or physical abuse while seeing their patients. Some patients may be abused and told they are receiving a specialized treatment that will improve their performance, or they may be intimidated and threatened not to reveal the abuse. Young athletes are particularly vulnerable to physical and/or sexual abuse by a physician.
The above are merely a few examples of what types of medical malpractice a sports medicine specialist can engage in. Any action by a physician that is outside of the accepted standard of care in the industry or what another similarly trained, reasonable medical professional would do in the same situation may be considered malpractice.
How to Bring Forward a Sports Medicine Malpractice Claim
Sports medicine malpractice cases can be challenging and require the expertise of an unbiased medical professional to review the case and determine not only how medical malpractice occurred, but what damages the patient sustained as a result of the malpractice.
Dr. Edward Mallory has provided expert witness testimony in many sports medicine malpractice cases and can provide victims of malpractice with the support needed to obtain justice and win their cases. If you believe yourself or a loved one has been the victim of malpractice in sports medicine, don’t hesitate to reach out for a detailed case evaluation. Call now at (813) 997-1241.