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Question Number: 30538

Law 5 - The Referee 6/24/2016

RE: High School

sam of oakland, ca usa asks...

Say you are a medical professional (nurse, physical therapist/physiotherapist, doctor, medical assistant, etc) who is also a referee. You are refereeing a game where an injury (either minor or possibly serious) occurs and the teams do not have any trained medical staff on the sidelines like a professional team might have, but you have been trained to the extent that you know what to do in the situation.

Would you be allowed, since you are a medical professional, to administer some kind of tests/treatments to an injured player on the field to either help the player get better or the discern the level of injury it is? Or as a referee are you required to stay completely out of interactions like this with players?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Sam
Typically a referee does not have to intervene as there may be trained persons with the team. If on the other hand there is none then I believe a referee if he can he should offer assistance as required. If it is a bone break or head injury I would offer advice as required and wait for an ambulance ensuring the player was not moved in the meantime. If I were a doctor or medical professional I would have no hesitation in intervening. It would be expected to do so.
Now each country is different in what would be expected and many have a Good Samaritan law and indeed some countries operate a duty to rescue law which requires a person to assist where they can do so. You need to check the law in your own jurisdiction. The reason those exist is to protect the aider from subsequent legal action.
I know of one referee who dealt with an unconscious player whose airway was blocked. Like myself he was a trained first aider with certification. Had he not intervened there would have been serious consequences for the player as there was no person there who knew what to do.
Now each situation will be different. I would certainly intervene as a referee as required and I would offer advice if I saw something that was a danger to the injured player.

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Answer provided by Referee Gene Nagy


Medical professionals have their own criteria as to what they can and should do. The necessity of delivering first aid overrides the fairness that you seem to question. Aiding an injured player by a professional is just that. It has nothing to do with remaining neutral as to the outcome of the game.
What is not OK is to suggest a strategical action based on the injury that the professional health care person reffing the game may give.

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