Skip to main content Accessibility help

A legal perspective on athlete screening and disqualification

  • Timothy E. Paterick (a1), Zachary R. Paterick, Nachiket Patel (a2), Khawaja A. Ammar (a3), Krishnaswamy Chandrasekaran (a4) and Abdul J. Tajik (a3)...


Physicians participate in the screening, routine medical supervision, and disqualification of student-athletes. In doing so, they should understand that eligibility/disqualification decisions inevitably have associated liability issues. It is the responsibility of physicians to take the lead role in the student-athlete medical assessment process to allow for optimum safety in sports programmes. The first duty of the physician is to protect the health and well-being of the student-athlete. However, because there is potential liability associated with the screening/disqualification process, physicians are wise to develop sound and reasonable strategies that are in strict compliance with the standard of care. This article focusses on cardiac screening and disqualification for participation in sports.


Corresponding author

Correspondence to: T. E. Paterick, MD, 3430 West Wheatland Road, PO Box 1, Suite 202, Dallas, TX 75237, United States of America. Tel: 972 283 1800; Fax: 972 283 1801; E-mail:


Hide All
1. Paterick, TE, Paterick, TJ, Fletcher, GF, Maron, BJ. Medical and legal issues in the cardiovascular evaluation of competitive athletes. JAMA 2005; 294: 30113018.
2. Maron, BJ, Thompson, PD, Ackerman, MJ, et al. Recommendations and considerations related to preparticipation screening for cardiovascular abnormalities in competitive athletes: 2007 update: scientific statement from the American Heart Association Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism: endorsed by the American College of Cardiology Foundation. Circulation 2007; 115: 16431655.
3. Harmon, KG, Asif, IM, Klossner, D, Drezner, JA. Incidence of sudden cardiac death in National Collegiate Athletic Association athletes. Circulation 2011; 123: 15941600.
4. Maron, BJ, Thompson, PD, Puffer, JC. Cardiovascular preparticipation screening of competitive athletes: a statement for health professionals from the sudden death committee (clinical cardiology) and Congenital Cardiac Defects Committee (cardiovascular disease in the young). American Heart Association. Circulation 1996; 94: 850856.
5. Maron, BJ, Zipes, DP. 36th Bethesda Conference: eligibility recommendations for competitive athletes with cardiovascular abnormalities. J Am Coll Cardiol 2005; 45 (theme issue): 13121375.
6. Madare v Oschner Foundation Hospital, 505 So 2d 146 (La Ct App 1987).
7. Canterbury v Spence, 464 F2d (CADC 1972).
8. Cowman v Hornaday, 329 NW 2d 422 (Iowa 1983).
9. Stansfield, MP. Malpractice: toward a viable decision for informed consent. Okla L Rev 1979; 32: 868890.
10. Moore v Regents of the University of California, 51 Cal3d D20 165 793, P2d 479 291 Cal Rptr 147 note 41 (1990).
11. Mitten, MJ, Maron, BJ, Zipes, DP. Task Force 12: legal aspects of the 36tn Bethesda Conference recommendations. J Am Coll Cardiol 2005; 45: 13731375.
12. Jones, CJ. Athletics: injury or illness and the decision to return to play. Buff L Rev 1992; 113: 114116.
13. Mitten, MJ. Team physicians and competitive athletes: allocating legal responsibility for athletic injuries. Univ Pitt L Rev 1993; 55: 129169.
14. Maron, BJ, Mitten, MJ, Quandt, EF, Zipes, DP. Competitive athletes with cardiovascular disease: the case of Nicholas Knapp. N Engl J Med 1998; 339: 16321635.
15. Ramirez v Muroc Joint United School District et al. No 252948SPC (Kern County Super Ct May 14, 2004).
16. Izidor v Knight, 2003 WL 21 21689978 (Wash App).
17. Knapp v Northwestern University, 101 F3d 473 (7th Cir 1996).
18. Gardner v Holifield, 639 So2d 652 (1st Cir 1993).
19. Harris-Lewis v Mudge, 803 NE2d 735 (Mass App Ct 2004).
20. Lillard v State of Oregon, No BC 2941 (LA Sup Ct January 19, 1993).
21. Ivey v Providence Hospital, Civil Action No 93-101-330 (DC Sup Ct September 10, 1993).
22. Larkin v Archdiocese of Cincinnati, No C-90–619 (SD Ohio August 31, 1990).
23. Gathers v Loyola-Marymount, No C795027 (LA Sup Ct April 20, 1990).
24. Penny v Sands, No H89–280 (Conn Super Ct May 3, 1989).
25. Kleinknecht v Gettysburg College, 989 F.2d 1360 (3d Cir. 1993).
26. Davidson v Univ of NC at Chapel Hill, 543 S.E. 2d 920 142 (NC App. 2001).
27. Kennedy v Syracuse University, No 94-CV-269, 1995 WL 548710 (N.D.N.Y. September 12, 1995).
28. Settlement at Loyola. New York Times. March 31, 1992, B13.


A legal perspective on athlete screening and disqualification

  • Timothy E. Paterick (a1), Zachary R. Paterick, Nachiket Patel (a2), Khawaja A. Ammar (a3), Krishnaswamy Chandrasekaran (a4) and Abdul J. Tajik (a3)...


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed