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University Sued for Medical Malpractice Over Football Head Injuries

Medical malpractice lawsuits usually involve suing doctors or nurses or businesses like hospitals or clinics. Sometimes, however, medical care can be provided by other sources, which can broaden malpractice liability. Universities are one example of an institution that can find itself facing medical malpractice accusations, particularly when student athletes are injured. A suit in California provides an example.

An Ex-Football Player is Suing a California University for Medical Malpractice

The Los Angeles Times reports that a former player for the University of California football team has filed a lawsuit against the university. The suit is for medical malpractice, and it is related to the concussions that he suffered while he was on the team. He suffered the concussions both during practices and during games, and as a result of the head trauma he claims to suffer from “permanent and debilitating” neurological injuries. His alleged symptoms include depression (including suicidal ideation), dizziness, memory issues, and vision problems.

The man who was the team’s head coach at the time the player was playing is named as a defendant, as are the team physician and the head athletic trainer. The suit claims that the school should have done more to prevent this type of injury and that it should have done more to educate players on the long-term risks of these types of head injuries. In this suit the university is in the position that a hospital would normally find itself in. It is in the position of hiring and supervising the medical staff that is responsible for athletes’ medical care. In addition to that role, however, the university also arguably takes on an additional duty to provide a safe environment for student athletes due to its unique position in the lives of these young adults.

Mayo Clinic Warns Against Playing with a Concussion

The California lawsuit is in its early stages. Only time and investigation will show exactly what the various individuals involved did when this player suffered from concussions, and whether any of that conduct (or lack of conduct) worsened the player’s condition or increased his risk of further complications. As these types of injuries have received more news coverage and have been the subject matter of many lawsuits leagues at all levels have enacted policies and protocols to keep players as safe as possible. The Mayo Clinic has published a few simple rules that athletes should follow.

***No one should play or engage in vigorous activity if he or she is experiencing the signs of symptoms of a concussion.

***Athletes with suspected concussions should not return to play until they have been medically evaluated by a medical professional trained in spotting concussions. Child athletes should be examined by someone with specific experience in pediatric concussions.

***Athletes of any age who suffer a concussion on a given day should not return to play that day.

It is unclear at this stage whether the school in the California case complied with any of these recommendations at the time this play suffered his injuries. Cal Sports Medicine’s current protocol does inform students of the risk of concussions and their consequences.

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