A permission slip obtained by First Coast News tells parents of Thomasville City Schools football players that their child may receive IV fluids administered “by our medical staff.”
But school officials now acknowledge the medical procedure is outsourced – and they do not know exactly who oversees the intravenous hydration program.
“This process is managed by an external medical staff and is prescribed and administered by them, I do not have access to this information,” Thomasville City Schools Superintendent Laine Reichert wrote in a Monday morning email. She said the school district has no records related to who administers the medical procedure.
As On Your Side previously reported, the South Georgia high school team routinely receives intravenous hydration therapy prior to games, in possibly unsanitary conditions.
Thomasville is about two and a half hours away from Jacksonville, Fl. and 45 minutes from Valdosta, Ga.
Video obtained by First Coast News appears to show nearly a dozen players receiving the IV fluids as they walk down a crowded field house hallway and on a school bus.
Independent medical professionals tell First Coast News that both locations shown in the video and photos are not sterile and could pose a risk of infection.
First Coast News has reached out multiple times to team physician Dr. Albert Richardson. He has not responded to multiple calls, emails and a visit to his Thomasville office since Nov. 7.
Reichert could not say whether those giving the IVs were Thomasville City School employees, only that, “If they did, it was outside of their workday and responsibilities. They received no compensation from us to do so.”
When asked for clarification, Reichert told First Coast News via email, she "doesn't know which nurses administer the treatments or who arranges them to do so."
She did say, however, the decision begins with the coaches.
According to Reichert, the coaching staff confers weekly to determine which players are referred to medical professionals. Some 13 to 15 are referred weekly, and only those whose parents signed release forms.
Reichert tells First Coast News, the criteria used to determine who is referred: previous history with cramping during summer workouts or practices, play demands (i.e. playing both ways, running backs, linebackers), low body fat physique [and] players who come from homes with food scarcity issues who do not have the ability or support to hydrate sufficiently during the week.
This is the complete language of the permission slip:
With the high temperatures that can be reached on the fields, we would like to take the
necessary steps to prevent our athletes from the risk of heat stroke. We have the ability
to administer I.V. fluids to our athletes should they begin to show the signs / symptoms
of dehydration or as a preventative measure. These would be administered and
overseen by our medical staff. Please sign below indicating that you give your consent
to the medical staff to administer I.V. fluids as they see fit during any THS athletic
activity during the 2018 – 2019 school year.
Using IVs on student-athletes prior to games isn’t illegal either. The Georgia High School Association (the organization that overseas high school sports in Georgia) says they don’t have a stance on the issue of IV therapy use and leave it up to the doctors to decide.