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Student Athlete Files Malpractice Claim Against Team Doctor

Student athletes rely on their school, coaches, and team staff to help them be the best athletes they can be. This includes making sure students are healthy and have time to complete their school work as well as their training schedules. When a team doctor provides care for the student, the student expects the doctor to have their best interest at heart. Unfortunately, some team doctors put the patients second which may put them at risk of an injury. 

Former SMU Basketball Player After Knee Injuries

Dai’ja Thomas was a promising basketball player with Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Plano, Texas. During the 2017-18 basketball season, Thomas began to suffer pain in her knees. She went to the coach and team doctor for help. According to Thomas, the doctor did not perform an MRI but only gave regular steroid shots and fluid drains. 

Thomas told the doctor how she was having regular problems with her knees, her knee would pop out, she suffered pain, and at times, it was difficult to walk. Instead of doing further imaging or tests, the doctor would just inject steroids and drain fluid. The next year, she was medically disqualified from playing basketball because of her knee injuries. 

Thomas later got an MRI which showed significant amounts of cartilage were missing from her knee. She had to undergo knee surgery but is still suffering pain and complications that make it difficult for her to walk, let alone play sports. In filing the medical malpractice lawsuit, Thomas said that SMU never gave her an MRI during the season and she felt the school was negligent by not taking steps to address the injury. 

According to the lawsuit, there was an abusive culture in the women’s basketball team, with head coach Travis Mays at one point saying to the team if they did not want to compete, they should kill themselves. Thomas alleged that Mays criticized her when she complained of pain that she was being disrespectful. Another former player McKenzie Adams, said that the 2017-18 season at SMU was “one of the most mentally traumatic experiences ever.”

In an early motion, SMU tried to get out of the lawsuit, criticizing Thomas’ medical expert and that the school was not liable for the team doctor’s actions. However, the judge denied the motion and for now, the lawsuit will proceed against SMU and the doctor for damages related to Thomas’ injuries and medical care. 

Knee Injury Treatments

Knee injuries can be difficult to deal with and many people suffer pain and difficulties for a long time before finally seeking help. Diagnosing knee pain may involve imaging tests, including: 

  • X-rays
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan
  • Ultrasound
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

These tests can show a doctor what things look like inside the knee, including missing cartilage, arthritis, inflammation or other issues. Non-surgical treatment for knee pain can include corticosteroid injections. Surgical options may include arthroscopic surgery, partial knee replacement, or total knee replacement surgery.

If you suffered unnecessary knee injury or pain because of negligent medical care, speak with a medical malpractice attorney. Fill out an online case evaluation form or call (800) 529-6162 today to talk to our team. 

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian
Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm’s litigation practice.  Briggs’ legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 


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