As of right now, when a sports doctor travels with a team out of state, their medical malpractice insurance doesn’t always travel with them.
But that might change soon.
The House of Representatives has approved the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act, which would allow a sports doctor to continue being covered by their medical malpractice insurance even while traveling out of state with the team.
Travel is a way of life in professional sports. When a doctor pays for medical malpractice insurance, we assume their work is covered. But usually that insurance only covers the state in which the doctor is licensed. It would be astronomically difficult and expensive, perhaps even impossible, to get licensed and insured in every single place the team travels.
If a doctor isn’t covered by their medical malpractice insurance, it can leave them in a very dangerous situation. And if medical malpractice occurs, everyone’s in trouble. The patient needs help covering medical and personal losses, and the doctor needs insurance so they aren’t held personally liable.
In sum, everyone needs to know they’ll have options if something goes wrong.
Sports medicine is a particularly dangerous area for medical malpractice:
- The risk of injury is higher in general.
Athletes spend a lot more time with their doctors than average patients. Their bodies are constantly under stress, so they usually receive more treatments more often than most of us.
- There’s so much at stake.
Most athletes aren’t paid $30 million a year. Their livelihoods and families depend on keeping healthy and having long careers. That means an injury from medical malpractice can be devastating and expensive to make right.
Everyone wins when doctors are well-insured. Ultimately, medical malpractice coverage should protect both athletes and their doctors – and that’s a goal worth aiming for.