Ethics and the professional team physician

  • Tucker A
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Abstract

A professional team physician is exposed to unique ethical issues in the course of caring for elite athletes. The medical decision-making process may be threatened by pressures from a variety of sources - players, coaches, management, and the physicians themselves. The use of measures such as injections and analgesic medication to allow play raises questions about the potential long-term effects on player health. Confidentiality is a constant challenge in such a public arena. Informed consent can be threatened by the tyranny of the urgent - sports medicine's own "shot clock." The position of professional team doctor may afford opportunities for the physician to participate in unique business ventures that could be perceived as crossing the line of ethics. Team physicians clearly have a responsibility to the teams they work for. Yet the greater responsibility still lies in caring for the patient-player. In this era of multimillion dollar salaries, a physician can fulfill both obligations, as long as the distractions of bright lights and roaring crowds are kept in their proper perspective.

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Authors

  • Andrew M. Tucker

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