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scottdale phoenix

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Scottsdale  •  Phoenix

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What Is the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act of 2018?

On October 3rd, 2018, the United States Senate overwhelmingly passed H.R. 302, or the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018. Part of this act relates to sports medicine licensure and protections for covered medical professionals. The Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act of 2018 will protect sports medicine professionals who travel across state lines with sports teams by keeping their insurance coverage active from state to state. The passing of this act may affect athletes’ abilities to obtain financial recovery for traveling physician medical malpractice. Here’s what to know.

Overview of the New Act

The Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act of 2018, also known as S.808, extends liability insurance coverage to other states when state-licensed medical practitioners provide services to traveling athletes, athletic teams, or team staff members. In the past, traveling state-licensed sports medicine professionals lacked insurance coverage when they crossed state lines. This not only impacted the physician (who is exposed to liability) but also victims of medical malpractice.

Without an insurance company to accept liability and pay damages, many physicians cannot afford to pay settlements or judgment awards. Before the passing of this bill, a traveling doctor’s medical license could be in jeopardy upon crossing state lines with a sports team. If something happened – such as an alleged medical malpractice claim – the physician would be on the line him/herself for damages, since medical malpractice insurance wouldn’t apply outside the state of licensure.

Now, however, physicians can practice with peace of mind by taking their medical malpractice insurance coverage with them across state lines. This fact can improve the quality of healthcare traveling athletes, teams, and staff members receive from physicians since red tape will no longer prevent doctors from offering care with confidence. It can also increase the odds of securing a fair settlement from a medical malpractice claim as an injured athlete.

After the passing of S.808, medical professionals traveling with sports teams must create written agreements disclosing the nature and extent of medical services they will provide to the athletic players or team to the insurance company. The insurance company will then extend medical malpractice insurance to the physician even when he or she leaves his/her state jurisdiction. Passing this bill eliminates legal and financial risks to physicians they previously had to face when treating injured athletes on the road.

What Is Medical Malpractice Insurance?

Medical malpractice insurance, or “medical professional liability insurance,” protects doctors and other licensed healthcare providers from liability during medical malpractice claims. In other words, if a patient came forward with a claim that the doctor fell short of accepted standards of care, causing patient injury, the doctor’s medical malpractice insurance would accept liability and pay the claimant’s damages rather than these expenses coming out of the physician’s pocket.

Since most physicians are independent contractors and not employees of the hospital, without insurance they would be personally responsible for paying a patient’s damages, as well as the court fees. A settlement or judgment could bankrupt a physician. Medical malpractice insurance serves to prevent bankruptcy and permit the physician to continue practicing medicine after the conclusion of the case. Under the new law, a medical malpractice insurance provider will cover healthcare services a qualifying sports medicine professional provides to athletes in states other than that physician’s state of licensure.

The Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act of 2018 protects physicians from liability for malpractice even when the incident occurs in other states, while tending to a traveling athlete’s injuries. It also gives injured victims the opportunity to seek full compensation for their damages after a malpractice incident from the physician’s insurance company. Athletes can benefit from more consistent medical care, while sports medicine professionals benefit from better liability protection on the road.

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