Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity

Summary: Sports medicine professionals are responsible for the organization, management and provision of care for athletes in individual, team, and mass participation sporting events. Oftentimes, these professionals travel with the athletes across state lines. Currently, out-of-state athletic team medical staff cannot treat players and others because they lack the visiting state’s license. In these circumstances, the sports medicine professional must choose between treating injured athletes at great professional risk and handing over the care of an injured player to another professional who is not familiar with the individual’s medical history. The team sports medicine professionals add value to the treatment episode that cannot be duplicated by a physician who does not have a long-standing awareness of the individual athlete’s medical history. Sports medicine providers should not have to choose between treating injured athletes at great professional and financial risk, and reducing athletes’ access to quality health care services.

Why Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Matters: For sports medicine professionals who travel into multiple states, obtaining and maintaining licensure in each state – especially under a scenario where they are not even providing medical care to residents of the secondary state – constitutes an excessively high administrative, cost, and risk management burden. Yet, sports medicine professionals should be able to engage in the treatment of injured athletes, whose medical histories they know well, across state lines without the fear of incurring great professional risk. The toolkit aims to preserve the access of athletes and athletic teams to sports medicine professionals who provide high-quality, continuous health care services.

Talking Points:

  • Currently, out-of-state athletic team medical staff cannot treat players and others because they lack a visiting state’s license.

  • State Orthopaedic Societies throughout the country are working with legislators on the bill language based on model legislation the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons provided.

  • The legislation states any visiting team physician must be licensed in their home state and must have an agreement with a sports team to provide care for the team while traveling in that state.

  • The bill bans a visiting physician from practicing at a healthcare clinic or healthcare facility including an acute care facility in the visiting state. A visiting team physician can administer sideline evaluations, triage and diagnostic services. However, they must defer to a visiting state’s licensed physician if an athlete or staff member needs to be transported to a facility.

The bills do not give prescriptive rights to out-of-state medical staff.

Click here to download the Toolkit

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