Former Geelong footballer Matthew Egan suing doctors over the foot injury that ended his career
An article in the Herald Sun this week discussed a lawsuit recently commenced against two doctors for their treatment of a promising football player, Matthew Egan. Mr Egan is suing the doctors on the basis that he was not properly informed of the risks of surgery. After suffering a foot injury in an AFL game in 2007, Egan underwent surgery. He began an aggressive rehabilitation program just 11 days later, which was supposed to help get him back onto the field to play in the Grand Final. Instead, he was forced to stop after five days due to severe pain. Egan has since undergone six further surgeries and has restricted movement in his right ankle.
The lawsuit names as defendants the football team’s doctor and the surgeon who operated on him.
Class action by former NFL players over concussions
This lawsuit comes at a time when much is being discussed about head injuries suffered by American Football players after repeated concussions, and more importantly, being allowed to play after suffering the first concussion.
The medical evidence suggests that the risks of severe injury are increased when a second concussion or more are experienced, especially when still recovering from an earlier concussion. The risks are of severe brain damage or depression later in life.
A class action launched by former football players on that basis has recently concluded with the NFL settling for $765 Million. In doing so, much has to be accepted about the past practices of allowing players to “play on” right after a concussion or return to the game to again and again suffer further concussions.
Putting the health of players first
While you can focus on the injury – concussions, or the ankle injury suffered by Matt Egan – the overall picture for professional sports is changing. It would seem at one time the focus was on the game and its spectacle – on getting key players to stay in the game or get back into the game as fast as possible to promote the interests of the team or the sport. What was missing was a concern for the interests of the player.
Many years ago I watched a movie called North Dallas Forty with Nick Nolte in the lead actor role. It had a lot to say about professional sports at that time, and one scene in particular still stands out for me. That is when a key running back is injured and is then given an injection of a painkiller into his knee so he can still play – and he does, only to suffer a further catastrophic injury to his knee that is clearly shown to end his career.
The focus for many years has been all about the team and the game, but with lawsuits like the NFL players in the States and Mr Egan here in Victoria, the focus may finally start to shift to give needed attention to the health of players.