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Journal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants
Abstract of "Ethics, Athletes, and the Team Physician"
Larry S. Bowman
Clinical Professor Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC 29425 Adjunct Professor in Bioengineering and Associate Directors AAMC Family Practice Sports Medicine Fellowship, Team Physician Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634
Marketing has become increasingly prevalent in medicine. Hospitals and medical practices have created increasing monetary incentives for the privilege of taking care of professional athletes. Such practices are now entering college and even high school levels. Payments to professional teams for the exclusive right of providing medical care and using this relationship for advertising has become a big business. Selecting medical coverage based on anything other than qualifications and performance can erode the athlete's confidence in his care and safe return to competition. Most athletic injuries require consideration of risks versus benefits for return to participation. The relationship between the team physician, hospital, and team (owner, coach, facility, etc.) should be revealed to the athlete and the public. Marketing versus buying athletic team coverage by hospitals and physicians creates a real ethical dilemma. It has been demonstrated that athletic team medical coverage increases business as well as the public's perception of the providers competence. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery has developed criteria for honesty in marketing and recently revised its Code of Ethics. The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine has developed guidelines for choosing a team physician. A medical practice buying new equipment for the high school weight room, hiring athletic trainers for high school or college teams, or paying $1,000,000 or more in advertising or other considerations for professional team official medical coveragethese all demonstrate potential ethical conflicts between the provider and the athlete. As interest in sports increases, public disclosure of the financial relationship between teams and medical providers is essential.
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