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Editor,—Further to the recent article Sports doctors' resuscitation skills under examination: do they take it seriously?”,1 there are some additional facts that support the argument.
The University of Bath diploma course in sports medicine for doctors includes teaching material on life support and spinal management. The relevant section of the primary care module workbook, edited by Lavis and Rose, contains a full description of resuscitation and spinal management. The tutor marked assignments that indicate the completion of the primary care module require description of the application of these skills to a defined situation. The residential component of the course, designed to rehearse practical skills, includes three hours of first aid revision and training conducted by one or more of the article authors.
The failure rate in the examination of proficiency in basic life support and spinal management of a potential spinal injury is in marked contrast with that of the other components of the course where a reasonable pass rate is obtained.
It does therefore seem possible that the reported failure rate is not due to the inadequacy of the teaching material, rather a perception by doctors that resuscitation and life support is not relevant to their work. The article reports other studies that highlight the poor standards of doctors in these skills. It cannot be assumed that doctors entering a sports medicine teaching course have previously acquired proficiency in the skills of resuscitation and the management of potential spinal injury.
It does suggest that there is an urgent need to educate doctors in their responsibility, not only to the community as a whole but also to the at higher risk sporting population, to be proficient in life saving skills. The widely reported court case in which the boxer Michael Watson successfully claimed damages for personal injuries sustained in a professional boxing contest—he sustained a brain haemorrhage and permanent injury—drew the comment from the judge that he had heard nothing to suggest that the doctors at the ringside were chosen because of their specialised knowledge.2
A requirement for an annual practical appraisal of the lifesaving skills of doctors involved in the everyday care of patients may not be inappropriate.