Sports Medicine Conflicts: Team Physicians vs. Athlete-Patients
University of Washington - School of Law
St. Louis University Law Journal, Vol. 50, No. 1, pp. 185-210 (2005)
Team physicians for professional sports franchises face a conflict of interest created by the competing loyalties they owe to the team that employs them and to the athlete patient they must treat. Marketing agreements under which physicians pay significant sums of money to be designated as the team's official healthcare provider exacerbate this conflict. These marketing arrangements call into question the independent judgment of team physicians and cause players to question the quality of care they receive. This paper explores several solutions to the growing problem of conflicts between athletes and team doctors in order to enhance players' trust in the medical care they receive. First, to remove the dual loyalty problem that team physicians face, professional sports leagues or players' unions should hire medical providers directly - as opposed to having individual teams employ and provide them. If this fundamental employment alteration proves impossible, physician groups should enter into explicit agreements with sports franchises asserting their independence, and professional sports leagues should mandate that physicians disclose all potential conflicts of interest to the players they treat. Finally, states might consider exceptions to the exclusive remedy provisions of workers compensation laws to ensure that professional athletes have legal recourse when they suffer the deleterious effects of these conflicts.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 27
Keywords: Sports, sports medicine, team physician, conflict, athlete, doctor-patient
JEL Classification: D74, I11, I1, J5, K00, K31, L2
Date posted: July 11, 2005 ; Last revised: October 16, 2015