NCAA chief medical officer abandons EKG test recommendation

Friday April 17th, 2015

Brian Hainline, the NCAA's chief medical officer, will no longer advocate men's basketball players take EKG tests to determine cardiac defects in the wake of mounting criticism of the idea from university team doctors, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday. 

Last month Hainline, a neurologist, had proposed recommending players undergo EKG tests to search for cardiac defects. A group of 100 team physicians from schools across the NCAA signed a petition asking him to change his mind. The tests would not have been compulsory. 

Hainline admitted that the issue had become "a thunderstorm" and said the EKG proposal was not receiving adequate support from the "knowledge base" of schools and team doctors at present.

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Hainline will attempt to make the tests mandatory, but will do so through a drawn-out process of seeking recommendations and addressing critics concerns, and not as a unilateral mandate, the Journal reported.

“If things happen in three years instead of now, I am infinitely happier than if we were to continue having the same argument that we’ve been having since 1985,” Hainline said.

Critics of the screenings cite the cost and infrastructure such tests would require, and the lack of cardiac knowledge of existing team doctors. 

Hainline is the former chief medical officer for the U.S. Tennis Association. In 2013, Hainline's role with the NCAA was expanded to cover areas beyond head trauma, one of the NCAA's foremost medical issues. 

The decision comes 25 years after Loyola Marymount player Hank Gathers collapsed on the court during a game and died. Gathers was diagnosed with heart arrythmia. 

- Will Green


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