Friday, May 15, 2009

Football and the Hippocratic Oath

While I really didn't want to write anything more about Brett Favre, the recent news about his shoulder and his consultation with renowned shoulder surgeon Dr. James Andrews, has aggravated me. I've talked to players for years about the problem with how their injuries are handled and I think it's time for things to change.

Favre has said that he knew he was injured during the season. I went on Sirius three days after he injured the shoulder and voiced my opinion that he was, in fact, hurt, but no acknowledgment of that came until the season ended. It was obvious to everyone that something was wrong. His control would come and go with balls going crazy places - a fact he also admitted recently.

The coaches knew he was injured because they would let him take plays off during practice to rest. Which begs the more important question: if the coaches knew, then clearly the team doctors also knew, so, why, did they let Favre play without putting him through the appropriate battery of tests that almost certainly would have revealed that he should not have been playing?

There are certain coaches who actually wield enough power to force their players to play through injuries in spite of the fact that the doctors are saying he shouldn't. However, again, shouldn't the doctor be in charge here?

While no player will go on the record with me for fear of retribution, there is a long-standing history at the Jets of the doctors not necessarily performing their due diligence. I have been told by numerous players over the years that it is not until they see their own doctors that they are given full testing and a complete diagnosis - and in many cases are then benched by their doctors until they recover from the injury.

One player several years ago, had his broken arm set so poorly that it now has a noticeable bump, which will require major surgery to correct (including re-breaking the bone).

Although players are certainly responsible if they lie to the doctors about how they are feeling (which they frequently do so that they can play), there are always objective tests that can be performed that will almost always tell the real story.

Football is a business and teams need their players to play - especially their best players. However, aren't doctors supposed to serve the needs of their patients?

One of the most notable lines from the Hippocratic Oath is: "do no harm."

Are doctors living up to this?

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