The U.S. Senate recently passed the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act of 2017, which provides legal protections for traveling team physicians and safeguards injured athletes’ timely access to health care professionals who know their medical history, as part of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018. The bill will now head to the president’s desk to be signed into law.
“For too long, team physicians have had to choose between treating patients at great professional risk or handing over care,” David A. Halsey, MD, president of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, said in a press release. “The licensure clarity act now ensures their protection, and we thank Congress for supporting this critical legislation. Its passage represents years of hard work trying to get it across the finish line and it is a significant win — not only for practicing sports medicine professionals, but also for the large percentage of orthopedists involved in the treatment and care of sports-related injuries.”
Passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in January 2017, the Senate bill was introduced in April 2017 by Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). Under the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act, sports medicine professionals can treat an athlete, athletic team or staff member of the team across state lines without fear of great professional harm, such as loss of license to practice, as well as protection from monetary loss with professional liability insurance, according to a press release. If the secondary state’s licensure requirements are substantially similar to the primary state, the release also noted medical services provided in the secondary state will be treated as if it occurred in the primary state.
“On the road or at home, sports medicine professionals should be able to treat athletes without putting themselves at legal risk,” Klobuchar said in a press release. “When this bill becomes law, doctors and other health care providers will be able to treat their athletes regardless of where their teams happen to be playing.”
The legislation is supported by the AAOS, the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and the American Academy of Neurology. The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, the National Collegiate Athletic Association and every major American professional sports league, as well as numerous other physician and sports medicine organizations have also shown support for the bill.