New Requirements for Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention in Athletics
Starting July 1, 2022, school districts will have new legal obligations related to the recognition and prevention of sudden cardiac arrest (“SCA”) for students participating in athletic activities. Legislation passed last year, known as the “Dominic Murray Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act,” amended portions of the Public Health Law and Education Law and enacted new requirements that will be applicable starting with the fall sports season for the 2022-2023 school year. Regulations implementing the Act have been proposed, and are expected to be presented to the Board of Regents for permanent adoption at the September 2022 Regents meeting; if adopted, such regulations would become effective as of September 28, 2022 (8 NYCRR § 136.9). Districts will now be required to provide information to parents and students on the risks, signs and symptoms of SCA, and to ensure that at-risk students are evaluated prior to participation in athletics.
Sudden cardiac arrest is defined as the abrupt and unexpected loss of heart function. Signs or symptoms include: fainting or seizure, especially during or right after exercise or with excitement or startle; racing heart, palpitations, or irregular heartbeat; dizziness, lightheadedness, or extreme fatigue with exercise; chest pain or discomfort with exercise; excessive shortness of breath during exercise; or excessive, unexpected fatigue during or after exercise. Students may also have personal or family risk factors that may increase the likelihood of triggering SCA (for example, use of certain drugs or supplements, or a family history of heart-related issues).SCA can be fatal if not treated within minutes using cardiopulmonary resuscitation (“CPR”) and an automatic external defibrillator (“AED”).
With the implementation of these changes, Districts are now required to take the following additional steps:
- Districts must include certain information on recognizing the signs or symptoms of pending or increased risk of sudden cardiac arrest in any permission form, consent form, or other similar document required for a student’s participation in interscholastic athletics. The law provided that such information was to be developed jointly by the Commissioners of Education and Health, and posted on the Department of Health webpage. However, SED’s June 15, 2022 guidance memorandum states that, until the Department of Health has updated its website to include such information, schools are advised to post and provide the information from the SED-developed sample parent letter as the source of information on consent forms. The sample parent letter is available here: https://www.p12.nysed.gov/sss/schoolhealth/schoolhealthservices/SampleParent_GuardianLetterSCA_.docx).In addition, the District’s webpage must also include this information or a reference to where such information can be accessed on the Department of Education or Department of Health webpages.
- SED’s guidance memorandum states that the “Interval Health History for Athletics” form must be completed for each student athlete prior to each sports season, unless a physical examination has been conducted within 30 days of the start of the season (available here: https://www.p12.nysed.gov/sss/documents/SampleRecommendedNYSEDIntervalHealthHistoryforAthleticsFillable6.2022.pdf)
- Districts must immediately remove any student who has signs and symptoms of pending SCA from athletic activity until seen by a physician. Athletic activity includes both physical education classes and extra-class athletic activities (such as intramural and interscholastic sports). The student’s physician must provide a written and signed authorization form to the school that clears the student to be able to return to athletic activity. A student athlete may not return to extra class athletic activities until he or she has also received clearance from the director of school health services to participate in such activity. The authorizations must be kept on file in the student’s cumulative health record maintained by the school.
- School districts and BOCES are already required to have at least one staff member who has undergone CPR and AED training, and to ensure that AED equipment is provided in instructional facilities with students present and during on school-sponsored athletic contests.In addition, coaches of extra-class athletic activities (intramural and interscholastic) were previously required to complete a first aid course from a nationally-recognized organization. The Act adds a requirement that this first aid course include instruction in recognizing signs and symptoms of cardiac arrest or sudden cardiac arrest. A list of accepted courses is available at: http://www.nysed.gov/common/nysed/files/programs/curriculum-instruction/courses-accepted-coaches-first-aid-and-cpr-aed-requirement.pdf.
Please contact us with any questions regarding implementation of these legal obligations.