How to avoid potential liability headaches from state concussion laws

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In 2006, 13-year-old Zack Lystedt suffered multiple concussions in a football game, which resulted in serious long-term brain injuries. Zack’s case inspired patient advocates, who successfully lobbied the Washington State Legislature to adopt the nation’s first “concussion law” in 2009.

Since then, more than 40 state legislatures have enacted concussion laws. These laws typically require removing players who suffer suspected sports-related concussions from sports activities until a health care professional clears them to return to play. While these laws are well-intentioned, and have strong popular and physician appeal, they may inadvertently pose new liability risks to pediatricians and other health care professionals.