As expected, the NFLPA has launched an effort to block teams from requiring players to sign legal waivers before receiving the medical benefits of Toradol.
The union has announced that a grievance has been filed against the NFL Management Council and the 32 teams in response to the requirement that players sign away their rights before receiving a potent pain-killing injection that may have long-term health consequences.
The announcement points out that NFL has complied with an agreement that the teams refrain from requiring players to sign waivers. However, the doctors are instead presenting the players with the documents, which exonerate not only the doctors but also the teams from liability. (We ordinarily would say “allegedly” here, but we have obtained a copy of one of the waivers.)
The union contends, basically, that the doctors are trying to foist the ultimate medical decision regarding Toradol use onto the player. “The position of the NFLPA is NFL Club physicians have a duty to inform Players of the risk and side-effects of prescribed medications and may obtain informed consent from the Player,” the union says in a statement regarding the grievance. “However, if an NFL Club physician believes a player would be placed at an unacceptable medical risk by using Toradol as part of the care and treatment of an injury, or if the Club physician is concerned about the long-term effects of such use, the teams medical staff should inform the player of that opinion and refuse to administer Toradol. The NFL Club physician should not administer Toradol and require that a player sign a waiver of liability before doing so. If, on the other hand, there is no such concern on the part of the Clubs medical staff, it should advise the player that the use of Toradol is appropriate.”
The union is entering delicate territory by suggesting that team physicians should refuse to administer Toradol. The players want it, because many of them need it in order to be able to play.
Of course, the NFLPA also realizes that the teams want the players to be able to play, which means that the doctors will be less inclined to refuse to administer a drug that in plenty of cases will provide the difference between playing or not playing — or playing and not playing very well. So if the team doctors won’t be naturally inclined to refuse to provide a drug that allows players to play, it’s only fair for players to be able to retain any legal rights they may have if a doctor fails to shut off the Toradol supply for a player/patient who shouldn’t be taking it.