Increasing incidence of claims against doctors.

‘The impact of the decision by traditional Medical Defence Organisations (MDOs) to alter, apply terms or withdraw cover for doctors treating ‘sports persons’ reach wider and deeper than is currently recognised or understood by the majority of those doctors most affected’ – James Calder, MD FRCS (Tr & Orth) FFSEM (UK)

The number of reported claims by professional sportspeople involving clubs and doctors is rising. The ever increasing sums of money in professional sport, the rise of immediate media, a generally more litigious society and a range of other factors are all adding pressure. This trend makes it essential for all doctors involved in sports injury treatment and sport & exercise medicine – to fully understand the risks they are exposed to.

MDU and MPS indemnity cover

At SEMPRIS, we strongly recommend that doctors seek to understand the unique risks associated with the treatment of professional sportspeople and then review the ability of their current indemnity to cover and respond to these risks.

In the light of rising claims and costs, the MPS and MDU have limited and or withdrawn third party indemnity cover for their members. The current MDU/MPS terms read as follows:

The MDU will not indemnify members for any damages, claimants’ costs and / or defence costs which relate to a claim against them by:

  1. the employer, agent or sponsor of a sports person who is an individual patient; (third party)
  2. any club, team or organisation (third party) for, with or under which a sports person who is an individual patient plays a sport; or
  3. the organiser or owner of any sporting event (third party) in or for which a sports person who is an individual patient plays a sport.

MDU Sports Medicine Special Provision:

  1. Employer includes any person to whom or through whom a sports person provides his services;
  2. Sports person means a person who plays or participates in a sport for remuneration;
  3. Remuneration includes payments in cash or kind, whether made directly or indirectly or by way of sponsorship;
  4. Sport means any sporting activity, whether amateur or professional, paid or unpaid, sponsored or unsponsored.

The MPS does not provide indemnity for doctors who are employed by, or contracted to, a Premiership Football Club. In addition, Specialists/Consultants should:

  1. not enter into a written or oral contract with an employer (third party) to treat employees for reward
  2. only accept referrals from other healthcare professionals not from clubs directly (third party)
  3. address any professional fee notes to the patient and not the employer (third party)
  4. review any existing relationship with an employer of a patient very carefully (contract – verbal, written, implied)

Insurers and indemnifiers do not withdraw or amend cover without very good reason. The MDU and MPS’s decision highlights the very real risks faced by doctors treating professional sportspeople and the fact that they don’t want to cover this risk.

SEMPRIS was launched in 2010 at the request of doctors and followed extensive research and consultation with the MDU, the MPS, doctors, medico-legal specialists, Lloyd’s underwriters and National Governing Bodies of sport. SEMPRIS is now the only UK Indemnity Scheme to provide doctors with comprehensive, claims made, indemnity for:

  1. Damages, claimants’ costs and / or defence costs relating to a claim brought by a sportsperson’s employer, club, agent, sponsor or event organiser in relation to alleged negligent treatment of a player.
  2. Pre-signing medical assessments including cardiology and radiology reporting undertaken directly for clubs.
  3. £10m standard cover for each and every claim subject to a £20m annual aggregate (far exceeding most hospital requirements).
  4. World-wide cover (including USA and Canada by request)*

*Terms and conditions apply