Electrocardiograms Now Required for Amarillo High School Athletics

_EKGHouse Bill 767 was passed on April 14, 2015, by the Texas House of Representatives. The Bill is entitled: “Relating to cardiac assessments of participants in extracurricular athletic activities sponsored or sanctioned by the University Interscholastic League.” The bill would require high school students across the state of Texas to get an electrocardiogram (ECG) test going into their freshman and junior years. You can read the entire text of the bill at: https://legiscan.com/TX/text/HB767/id/1203042/Texas-2015-HB767-Engrossed.html.

Section 33.095 of the bill states the following: “Cardiac Assessments of Participants in Extracurricular Athletic Activities. (a) A school district must require a district student who is required under University Interscholastic League (UIL) rule or police to receive a physical examination before being allowed to participate in an athletic activity sponsored or sanctioned by the UIL to also have administered to the student an electrocardiogram before being allowed to participate in the activity, including a practice for the activity, as follows: (1) one time before the student’s first year of participation; and (2) another time before the student’s third year of participation. (b) This section does not create a cause of action or liability against an appropriately licensed or certified health care professional, a school district, or a district officer or employee for injury or death of a student participating in or practicing for an athletic activity sponsored or sanctioned by the UIL based on or in connection with the administration or evaluation of or reliance on an electrocardiogram or on any echocardiogram. (c) The UIL shall adopt rules as necessary to administer this section. (d) The rules adopted under Section (c) must include a rule for granting a waiver from administration of an electrocardiogram under this section to a student if, for any reason, the parent of or person standing in parental relation to the student submits a written request for the waiver. Section 2. This Act applies beginning with the 2016-2017 school year. Section 3. This act takes effect immediately if it received a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, as provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution. If this Act does not receive the vote necessary for immediate effect this Act takes effect September 1, 2015.

House Bill 767 was approved by the Texas House in an 81 to 62 vote. The bill was introduced after the death of Cody Stephens, a Crosby High school football player, who fell asleep at home in May 2012 and never awoke. Doctors later discovered that Stephens, who planned to attend Tarleton State University on a football scholarship, had an enlarged heart.

Texas legislators introduced the bill in hopes that mandatory EKG screenings would help detect heart problems among high school athletes in advance. The screenings are a non invasive test of electrical activity in the heart, and are estimated to cost families about 15 dollars.

The Amarillo Independent School District website says that AISD is offering a optional EKG test in April. It is funded by the Cody Stephens foundation. It will just cost AISD kids $5. Parents should visit the AISD website for more information: http://www.amaisd.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=18930063&pageId=27018658. An April 10, 2015 posting on the AISD website says the following: “Amarillo ISD has partnered with the Cody Stephens, “Go Big or Go Home” Memorial Foundation to provide cardiac screening for all student athletes in the high school athletic programs April 27-28. Cardiac screening will be offered on a voluntary basis to all athletes across the four AISD high school campuses. “We have contracted with the Cypress ECG Project to screen athletes with an ECG (electrocardiogram) to give parents the opportunity to have their child tested for any type of heart issues prior to competing in athletics, “ AISD Director Brad Thiessen explained. The initial screening is open to all high school grade levels. Parents will be asked to pay $5 for their portion of the test, and the Cody Stephens Foundation will pick up the remainder of the $15 test fee. For further information, parents can contact the athletic trainer at their respective high school campus.

Copyright 2015 – L. Arthalia Cravin. All rights Reserved. No part of this commentary may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.

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