Last year nearly 8 million students participated in organized high school sports with a documented 1.3 million sports-related injuries. There is a growing need for schools to provide the safest environment possible for the wellbeing of student-athletes. Very few federal or state directives have been set up for governing athletic medical care at sporting events. It is critical for schools, athletic directors, and coaches to have policies and procedures in place not only to protect the players but to protect themselves from liability.
As a consultant, schools often request my assistance in developing policies and procedures that ensure their compliance with federal, state, and local requirements. The health and wellness of student-athletes is a top priority and should not be ignored. There are a number of steps that can be executed at the school level to ensure that when the inevitable happens everyone is prepared.
Know the laws that protect athletes
Michigan’s Sports Concussion legislation is a significant step in the right direction. Concussions have serious consequences and can happen in any sport, not just football. All coaches, volunteers and other adults involved with athletic activities are required to complete a concussion awareness training every three years. The Michigan High School Athletic Association requires all Head Coaches to maintain a valid, current CPR certification. They also have policies in place for managing heat and humidity, and strategies to follow protecting against heat illness emergencies. Beyond this, it is up to the schools to take action.
Have an action plan in place
Parents and students are trusting that the schools and coaches have an action plan in place to reduce the risk of injury when the inevitable happens. There are a number of measures that can be implemented at the school level to ensure that everyone is ready for the inevitable:
- Accurate disclosure of student-athlete medical information
- Up-to-date first-aid, CPR, and AED training for coaches and athletic directors
- Ensure athletic safety equipment is properly fitted for each athlete and in good working condition
- Provide training for the athlete in the proper use of safety equipment and gear
- Establish an athletic emergency plan to address athletic injuries and emergency situations that may arise at an athletic event
- Proper diagnosis and treatment of injuries occurring during the athletic activity
- Return-to-play policy following assessment and treatment of injuries
- Recommendations for follow-up medical care and assessments
My School Nurse has a variety of solutions available to help you develop a plan of action for providing the safest environment possible. Contact us today so we can discuss your options to ensure you are compliant in your duties.