Senate Bill No. 340
(By Senators Stollings, Kessler (Mr. President), Unger, Klempa and Plymale)
[Originating in the Committee on Judiciary;
reported February 23, 2012.]
A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated §18-2-25a, relating to providing findings by Legislature regarding concussions and head injuries; defining “interscholastic athletes”; requiring the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission to promulgate rules that address concussions and head injuries in interscholastic athletes; setting forth minimum provisions to be included in the rules; and exempting volunteer health care provider from liability in certain instances.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new section, designated §18-2-25a, to read as follows:
ARTICLE 2. STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION.
§18-2-25a. Management of concussions and head injuries in athletics at West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission member high school or middle school.
(a) The Legislature finds:
(1) Concussions are one of the most commonly reported injuries in children and adolescents who participate in sports and recreational activities. The centers for disease control and prevention estimates that as many as three million nine hundred thousand sports-related and recreation-related concussions occur in the United States each year;
(2) A concussion is caused by a blow or motion to the head or body that causes the brain to move rapidly inside the skull. The risk of catastrophic injuries or death are significant when a concussion or head injury is not properly evaluated and managed;
(3) Concussions are a type of brain injury that can range from mild to severe and can disrupt the way the brain normally works;
(4) Concussions can occur in any organized or unorganized sport or recreational activity and can result from a fall or from players colliding with each other, the ground or with obstacles;
(5) Concussions occur with or without loss of consciousness, but the vast majority occur without loss of consciousness; and
(6) Continuing to play or practice with a concussion or symptoms of head injury leaves the interscholastic athlete especially vulnerable to greater injury and even death. The Legislature recognizes that, despite having generally recognized return to play and practice standards for concussion and head injury, some affected interscholastic athletes are prematurely returned to play or practice resulting in actual or potential physical injury or death to the athletes in the State of West Virginia.
(b) For the purposes of this section, “interscholastic athlete” means any athlete who is participating in interscholastic athletics at a high school or middle school that is a member of the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission.
(c) The West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission shall promulgate rules pursuant to section twenty-five of this article that address concussions and head injuries in interscholastic athletes: Provided, That prior to state board approval and notwithstanding the exemption provided in section three, article one, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code, the state board shall submit the rule to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability pursuant to section nine, article three-b, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code. The rules required by this section shall include, but are not limited to, the following:
(1) Guidelines, other pertinent information and forms, as appropriate, shall be developed to inform and educate appropriate school administrators, coaches, interscholastic athletes and their parents or guardians of the nature and risk of concussion and head injury including continuing to play or practice after a concussion or head injury;
(2) On a yearly basis, a concussion and head injury information sheet shall be provided to the interscholastic athlete and the athlete's parent or guardian before the interscholastic athlete begins practice or competition;
(3) An interscholastic athlete who is suspected of sustaining a concussion or head injury in a practice or game shall be removed from competition at that time;
(4) An interscholastic athlete who has been removed from play or practice may not return to play or practice until the athlete is evaluated by a licensed health care provider trained in the evaluation and management of concussions and receives written clearance to return to play and practice from that licensed health care provider. The health care provider may be a volunteer. A volunteer who authorizes an interscholastic athlete to return to play and practice is not liable for civil damages resulting from any act or omission in the rendering of such care, other than acts or omissions constituting gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct. For the purposes of this section, a licensed health care provider shall be a medical doctor licensed under the provisions of article three, chapter thirty of this code, a doctor of osteopathy licensed under the provisions of article fourteen, chapter thirty of this code, an advanced registered nurse practitioner licensed under the provisions of article seven, chapter thirty of this code, a physicians assistant as licensed under the provisions of article three, chapter thirty of this code and an athletic trainer certified by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Board of Certification and registered under article twenty-a, chapter thirty of this code; and
(5) A requirement that all member schools must submit a report to the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission whenever an interscholastic athlete suffers or is suspected of suffering a concussion or head injury in a practice or game. The report must be submitted within thirty days after the interscholastic athlete receives written clearance to return to play or practice from the licensed health care provider. The written clearance must be included with the report submitted by the member school. The West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission shall compile and analyze all reports and make a determination on whether the rule required by this section or equipment worn by interscholastic athlete needs to be amended accordingly.