Guidelines for Before, During and After Each Sports Event
The NCAA and NATA and other sports organizations carefully spell out the standards athletic organizers, including coaches, teachers and others, should follow before, during and after an athletic event.
Before the Event Begins
As part of the “pre-game” education program, NATA encourages trainers to:
- Educate athletes about bloodborne pathogens.
- Discuss the ethical and social issues related to bloodborne pathogens.
- Review the importance of prevention programs, including standard precautions and immunizations.
- Educate athletes about the signs and symptoms of hepatitis B [and hepatitis C] and HIV.
Make sure the athletes know the rules concerning standard precautions, including reporting all wounds immediately if and when they occur. This is part of the coach or trainer’s critical pre-game education.
Before the opening whistle, cover all wounds, abrasions, cuts or weeping wounds that may serve as a source of bleeding or as a port of entry for bloodborne pathogens. Remember, protection is a two-way street. No one wants germs entering or exiting these wounds or abrasions. The “cover” or bandages should be able to withstand the demands of competition.
Wear protective equipment over high-risk areas where bruising commonly occurs, such as elbows or hands.
Make sure the necessary equipment and supplies needed to comply with standard precautions are available, including latex [or other non-permeable] gloves, biohazard containers, disinfectants, bleach solutions, antiseptics, containers for soiled equipment and uniforms and sharps containers.
During the Event
Underscore the importance of early recognition and control of any cuts or bruises that bleed. Coaches and athletes alike should be prepared for appropriate cleaning and covering procedures and changing of blood-saturated clothes.
Require all athletes to report all wounds immediately. Players with active bleeding should be removed from the event as soon as practical. Return to play should be determined by appropriate staff.
All personnel involved with sports should be trained in basic first aid and infection control, including standard precautions:
- They should use sterile latex [or other non-permeable] gloves for direct contact with blood or body fluids containing blood.
- Gloves should be changed after treating each individual participant. After glove removal, hands should be washed.
- Any surface or equipment contaminated with spilled blood should be cleaned with gloves on. The spill should be contained in as small an area as possible. After the blood is removed, the surface should be cleaned with a disinfectant or decontaminant.
- Proper disposal procedures should be practiced to prevent injuries caused by needles, scalpels and other sharp devices.
- Any equipment or uniforms soiled with blood should be laundered in accordance with hygienic methods.
Any life-saving equipment should be maintained in accordance with infection control guidelines.
After the Event
When the game is over, any wounds, cuts, and abrasions should be tended to.
Coaches and athletic personnel should constantly review the level of knowledge and implementation of standard precautions policies and recommend revisions and retraining where necessary.
Appropriate policy development with legal and administrative assistance of existing OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and other legal guidelines and conference or school rules and regulations should be considered on an as needed basis.
Medical Records and Confidentiality
While many experts feel an athlete should not have to “disclose” an infection to a coach, trainer or teacher, some athletes may decide personally to share information about a bloodborne viral infection.
The security, record-keeping and confidentiality requirements and concerns that relate to athletes’ medical records generally apply equally to those portions of athletes’ medical records.
Because social stigma is sometimes attached to individuals infected with HIV or viral hepatitis, athletic officials should pay particular care to the security, record-keeping and confidentiality requirements that govern the medical records for which they have a professional obligation to see, use, keep, interpret, record, update or otherwise handle.
An Infected Trainer, Teacher or Coach
A coach, teacher or trainer infected with a bloodborne pathogen should practice his or her profession while taking into account all professionally, medically and legally relevant issues raised by the infection.
Depending on individual circumstances, the infected coach, trainer or official must take reasonable steps to avoid potential and identifiable risks to his or her own health and the health of his or her team.
More information may be found at PKIDs’ Infectious Disease Workshop
Image courtesy of PShanks