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All Pre-Participation Evaluation Forms Are Not Created Equal

Lack of uniformity poses challenges for parents

Basics

A school or independent youth sports organization (YSO) should require a preparticipation physical exam or evaluation (PPE) before allowing a child to practice or play an organized sport. In most places, not just any PPE form will do. Most schools or sports programs specify the PPE form that has to be completed.

After the sports season is over, a school or YSO should save the PPE until the child becomes an adult because children have the right to bring lawsuits as adults for injuries they suffered as children. A school or YSO will fare better in court if they can produce their PPEs.

Use School's Form

Most schools and YSOs have lawyers who require that a specific PPE form be used. In my position as an athletic commissioner, I occasionally encounter parents who have trouble with this requirement, often telling me that they have used other forms to certify that their child is healthy. I always have to let these parents down gently, explaining to them that the reason for requiring a specific form is a legal one: no school or YSO can afford to run the risk of one child being certified under one standard and another child being certified under another standard.

Working Towards a Common Form?

The problem is that there is no uniformity in the forms being used: the decision is made on a school-by-school, program by program basis. It would be far better if there was one form used by every school and sports program.

There is one PPE form which is now used widely enough that is considered the "model form." The form, produced by a consortium of medical societies, has come to be known as "The Six Society Monograph." This unwieldy descriptive sounds like a reference to a mysterious conspiracy but in truth it just is a high falutin way of saying that six medical groups (the American Academy of Family Physicans, The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Medical Society For Sports Medicine, The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, the American College of Sports Medicine, and the American Osteopathic Academy of Sports Medicine) got together and developed a model PPE form. If you go on the Internet and search "preparticipation physical examination" you'll find a number of versions of the Five Society Monograph form. [Editor's Note: A 2014 study finds that only 23 states mandate a single statewide PPE form, and, of those, only 8 (covering 11% of US high school athletes) use the Six Society Monograph].

But wait! Don't rush out and pull a random version of the form off the Internet to give to your child's doctor to complete. Some schools and YSO modify the form in stylistic and substantive ways. Check with your school first to make sure your child's physcian uses the precise form it requires.

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