June 15, 2022
With an estimated job growth of 23% by 2030 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), athletic trainers will be increasingly called upon to prevent and treat injuries for athletes of all ages.
Since athletic trainers carry a long list of duties to perform with patients, they’re not hidden from the risk of liability and can be sued for negligence. There are three types of legal wrongdoings that are seen in negligence cases — nonfeasance, malfeasance and misfeasance (BOC). If athletic trainers stay within their scope of practice, maintain proper documentation, obtain informed consent and develop specific guidelines, then liability risks should be limited.
Scope of practice.
Athletic trainers are called upon to help patients through numerous stages of care. Having a clear understanding of the laws in their state of practice helps athletic trainers know what they can and can’t do when providing patient care.
Maintaining accurate and up-to-date documentation of medical records helps athletic trainers better manage their patients and can provide precise information to refer to later if needed. Because athletic trainers usually work with other health care professionals during a patient’s care, maintaining proper documentation facilitates effective communication among providers.
Maintaining patient medical information and records should always be kept in a secure manner, whether digitally or in paper form.
Athletic trainers need to make sure a patient is fully aware of all aspects associated with treatment. Patients should also know the likely benefits and potential risks associated with the treatment and all available options as possible alternatives to the suggested care. It’s best to provide these notices in written form and make sure the patient is competent and not under any pressure to receive the care.
Informed consent is not required by an athletic trainer in an emergency situation.
Develop specific guidelines.
Having guidelines that can be used during the whole process of treating a patient helps make sure that no steps are missed and helps ensure complete safety. These guidelines need to be followed by all athletic trainers and should be known and easily accessible to the department. These guidelines can include the process of evaluating a patient, treatment plans and so forth.
It’s important to protect yourself and your employer from potential liability. The National Athletic Trainers’ Association has additional resources to educate individuals on risk and liability in this profession.Back to Main page
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