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San Francisco 49ers starting linebacker Dre Greenlaw suffered an Achilles tear during the Super Bowl matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs. This injury comes after multiple season injuries, including Achilles tendonitis, which he was still recovering from going into the big game. Initially thought to return later in the game, he was eventually ruled out, causing many to reflect on the extent of Greenlaw’s injury and the recovery ahead.

Sports injuries and recovery time may be subject to scrutiny from coaches, players, and observers, especially in high-profile matches. Physicians treating injuries subject to high-stakes consequences should not let outside influences guide their medical treatment and ultimately have an ethical responsibility to protect the health of the patient.

AMA Code of Medical Ethics Opinion 1.2.5, “Sports Medicine,” states that physicians must “base their judgment about an individual’s participation solely on medical considerations,” and “not allow the desires of spectators, promoters of the event, or even the injured individual to govern a decision about whether to remove the participant from the event.” Physicians providing care for athletes during any “athletic, sporting, or other physically demanding event should protect the health and safety of participants.

To further explore the AMA Code of Medical Ethics, please visit


Published on March 28, 2024