Professional athletes in Maryland and elsewhere rely on their health and ability to allow them to perform in their sports at peak competitive levels. Team doctors are employed by the organizations to help protect the athletes and recommend treatment for them in the event of injury or illness. A professional football player is claiming that team medical professionals failed to live up to that commitment, and it may result in a medical malpractice case.
The player, a tackle with a local team, had noticed what appeared to be an abnormal growth on his head. He first noticed it a few years ago, and when he told team doctors about it, they reportedly dismissed it as a cyst and therefore something minor. In the intervening period, the growth was removed and found to be cancerous. The team sent him to a specialist where it was determined that the cancer had progressed to a more serious stage and required several surgeries to fully remove the cancerous tissue.
The professional football players union agreement contains language governing the relationship between team medical staff and the team itself. The agreement states that the medical staff’s primary responsibility is to the health and well-being of the individual players. The player in this case felt that the medical staff were quick to dismiss his complaint, and had they done tests sooner, the cancer may have been discovered sooner. He does appear to be healthy and is again playing, but he has suffered nerve damage that may be permanent.
Professional football is a dangerous sport, and many of the players have relatively short careers due to the physical nature of the sport. Maintaining one’s health for as long as possible is paramount to a successful career in sports in Maryland. An athlete should be able to trust that a team physician has the player’s best interest at heart. In an instance where this may be suspect, a player may wish to consult with an attorney regarding the feasibility of a medical malpractice lawsuit.