Sports Medicine Health Care Providers Protected Under New Law

As a leader health care malpractice insurance, Professional Solutions wants to share the good news and details about recent legislation that affects health care providers who travel with certain types of sports teams.

The new law (the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act of 2018) allows health care providers who meet the law’s “covered sports medicine professional” definition to be covered by their malpractice insurer when they provide treatment to an athlete, athletic team, or team staff member outside of their state of licensure.  

Under the new law, your malpractice coverage and license follows you from your primary practice state to secondary states when you’re treating an athlete or athletic team and meet the conditions of the law and your policy.  

Here are some FAQs:

How does Professional Solutions’ policy work with this new law?

With its scope-of-practice policy, Professional Solutions provides coverage for care provided in any state where you hold an active health care license (subject to the policy’s terms, conditions and exclusions). Prior to the new law, if you were traveling with a team to another state where you were not licensed, you needed to contact that state’s licensing board to ensure you were meeting their travel-to-treat requirements. 

Your malpractice coverage and license will follow you from your primary practice state to secondary states when you’re treating an athlete or athletic team and meet the conditions of the law and your policy.  

Does the new law apply to me?

The new law only applies when a physician, athletic trainer or other health care professional provides “covered medical services” in a secondary state to:

  • Professional athletes/teams with paid players or individuals participating in an activity or event for which they may be paid
  • Team U.S.A. athletes/teams participating in an event or activity sponsored or sanctioned by a national governing body recognized by the U.S. Olympic Committee
  • High school or college athletes/teams for which a high school or an institution of higher education provides a covered sports medicine professional

Please note: The new law does not apply to all travel-to-treat situations.

What types of treatment are covered?

The term “covered medical services” means general medical care, emergency medical care, athletic training, or physical therapy services. The following are excluded from the definition:  

  • Care provided in a secondary state at a health care facility 
  • Care provided while a health care provider licensed to practice in the secondary state is transporting an injured individual to a health care facility 
    • However, there is carve out from this exclusion that allows treatment at health care facilities at an arena, stadium, practice facility or temporary facilities existing for events where athletes or athletic teams may compete

Which state determines my scope of practice?

The services you provide in a secondary state must be within the scope of practice of your primary state. Your primary state is the state where you are licensed to practice and where the majority of your practice occurs. 

Likewise, the law does not allow you to provide services in another state that exceed the scope of a substantially similar professional license in that state. For this reason, you may need to review the scope of practice where you plan to travel to treat to ensure your care does not exceed the state’s scope.

Also, the law does not supersede any reciprocity or interstate agreements between states or existing licensure exemptions for traveling sports medicine professionals. 

Is a written agreement required? 

Yes. There must be a written agreement with an athlete, an athletic team, a national governing body, a high school, or an institution of higher education. While a written agreement must be in place, there are no requirements regarding its content.

What must I disclose to my malpractice insurance company?

You must disclose the nature and extent of your services. This disclosure must occur prior to providing the covered medical services in a secondary state.  

What does Professional Solutions need from me?

Professional Solutions has created a form for sports medicine doctors to complete. Once you have disclosed the nature and extent of the services you plan to provide—as long as your activity is in line with the terms of the law—your Professional Solutions malpractice insurance and licensure will follow you to the states where you travel to treat athletes. 

The state and address where you do the majority of your practicing should be the one listed on your policy. This would be your “primary state” under the new law. 

If you have questions about the law’s requirements or your malpractice insurance coverage, please call 800-718-1007.