Abstract 2656: Preparedness of US Physician Workforce to Screen Competitive Athletes for Sports Participation
The 2007 AHA panel on preparticipation (PPE) screening of competitive athletes expressed concern about preparedness of physician-examiners in the US Healthcare system to perform and interpret screening examinations.
Purpose: To Identify physician engagement with athletes according to specialty, role in determining eligibility, adherence to multiple published guidelines, and ability to interpret athlete electrocardiograms (ECGs).
Methods: US physicians in 5 different specialties (n=285) completed on-line survey. Physicians were asked number of athletes cleared per year; whether “unaware of”, “aware of but did not use”, ”occasionally used”, or “consistently used” published guidelines; if 12- lead ECG is indicated for screening; and to “allow play” or “not allow play” on a series of asymptomatic athlete ECGs.
Conclusions: Although physicians in all disciplines cleared athletes, physician engagement with athletes was highest in FP, PED, and SM, while more than 1/3 of CAR cleared at least 50 athletes annually. Awareness and use of published guidelines varied according to physician specialty. While SM demonstrated most awareness of and consistent use of 36th Bethesda guidelines, only 11% of cardiologists demonstrated the same. Opinion varied widely on ECG-based screening. Over 2/3 of all physicians withheld HCM and QT ECGs from sports participation, regardless of specialty. But, up to 62% withheld ECGs with LVH by voltage only. This study supports the AHA PPE panel’s concern of the preparedness of the US physician workforce to perform and interpret screening examinations, and confirms the need for wide-spread education.