The Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act (#808) has been approved by the Senate's Health, Labor, Education, and Pensions Committee. This non-partisan measure allows for those medical professionals working in sports medicine who travel with athletic teams to retain their medical malpractice coverage regardless of whether they are outside of their original state of licensure.
The House had already passed the legislation known as H.R. #302 previously. There had long been confusion and concern regarding such coverage, which is warranted in the event that a provider faced a claim of medical negligence. This law encompasses all those who provide medical care and training to an athlete, team, or employee of the organization and applies nationwide.
The general consensus has been that this law makes good sense, as sports medicine professionals are tasked with providing care to athletic teams that are traveling regularly. Both U.S. Senators John Thune and Amy Klobuchar publically voiced support for the measure. Thune described the action as being a “win-win” for all those involved. The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) had fully supported the bill for several years. Other proponents included the National Athletic Trainers Association, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, and some local and regional medical societies.
Sports medicine practitioners had been unable to rely upon their medical malpractice insurance when crossing state lines, creating the potential for financial exposure. In the field of medicine, cases of medical negligence can become very costly, thus making these professionals quite vulnerable. Those who benefit from this new legislation include physicians practicing in sports medicine, as well as physical therapists and athletic trainers. In response to this change in the malpractice coverage, it is likely that insurance providers will need to adjust the price of insurance premiums accordingly.
Sports Medicine physicians are generally focused on preventing and treating illnesses and injuries that occur among athletes. Their goals include increasing overall function and mobility, decreasing any disabling injuries and the amount of time that patients are unable to participate in activity. These physicians within this increasingly common specialty have the following background and training:
- Are first board certified in emergency medicine, family practice, internal medicine, pediatrics, or physical medicine and rehab
- Complete one or two more years of sports-related education through a fellowship
- Obtain added qualifications in sports medicine and then pass an accredited national exam
- Are subject to ongoing continuing medical education requirements and potentially being recertified at a fixed interval of time
Physical Therapy (PT)
A PT is largely focused on increasing the capacity of patients to move their joints and limbs. Often a therapy regimen is used in place of (an alternative to) surgery. They typically will review the patient's past medical history to gain insight into the potential options for treatment. A customized plan of the patient is developed based on the patient's capabilities and the goals and outcomes that the therapy hopes to achieve. The plan of care is then modified in response to progress with additional exercises as necessary.