Becker’s Orthopedic Review: Sports Medicine Physicians Continue to Fight Ethical Dilemmas

In an article written by Bert Mandelbaum, MD, orthopedic surgeon and co-chair of medical affairs at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles, published on Medscape, more than ever sports medicine physicians are facing ethics challenges.

Here are four takeaways:

1. As reimbursement rates fall for sports medicine physicians, physicians can be tempted to treat athletes who do not require surgery. Because the patients being treated are public figures, it can be tempting to over diagnose or feel pressure to fix the injury quicker.

2. All physicians are required to follow the Physician Payments Sunshine Act; however, sports medicine physicians face conflicts regarding marketing arrangements from teams, schools and health centers.

3. Sports medicine physicians are bound to the Hippocratic Oath, calling on physicians to maintain their patients’ confidentiality. This oath can get hazy when treating professional athletes.

4. Dr. Mandelbaum recommends going further than taking the oath. He recommends they take a personal mission statement. He notes that if a physician abuses or mistreats a patient, their career is no longer noted for its success but for the tainted reputation surrounding it.

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