Doctor’s call for Irish League medical review after Christian Eriksen incident

Irish League doctor Stephen Best is hoping the global focus on Christian Eriksen’s medical crisis at EURO 2020 can result in a review of current procedures within domestic football.

Monday, 14th June 2021, 12:53 am

Eriksen, now described as “stable”, required emergency pitchside medical treatment after collapsing during Denmark’s game with Finland on Saturday.

The incident has sparked widespread discussion on the importance of increased awareness over cardiac healthcare.

Dr Best, Glenavon’s club doctor since the 1990s, suggests a two-step approach at Irish League level.

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Denmark’s Christian Eriksen (hidden) leaving the pitch on Saturday after life-saving pitchside treatment. Pic by PA.
Denmark’s Christian Eriksen (hidden) leaving the pitch on Saturday after life-saving pitchside treatment. Pic by PA.

“It is about asking what realistic steps can be taken for our standards of medical care,” said Dr Best. “In my opinion, the first step - and there is a cost - is to introduce mandatory heart screening for all young players, at the start of their careers when they first sign for a club and then at certain agreed intervals throughout their career.

“It involves an echocardiogram and an (ECG) electrocardiogram as well as a physical examination, the current cost being around £100 to £150 per player...the cost of a pair of boots for many.

“Our clubs taking part in Europe must put participating players through a screening process - I would like us to consider introducing it as standard practice for all senior clubs in the league to screen players, to detect those who have a heart defect and are not aware.

“Even with screening, and no doubt Christian Eriksen went through screening, cardiac events will still occur, so next it comes down to how equipped we are to react to an emergency.

“Although impossible to mirror in part-time football the treatment levels at EURO 2020, there should be a trained paramedic attending every fixture.

“All clubs may not be able to have a doctor available for every match.

“Our clubs have defibrillators but annual CPR training should be available, mandatory for many and not only for club doctors and physios who usually go through this annual training in their ‘day jobs’ but also for other club personnel and even some players.

“The more people who are trained - and with regular refresher courses - the better and this could improve further the availability of ‘pitchside’ emergency resuscitation.

“Widespread CPR training would be a major step forward and give someone that crucial extra chance...when every second counts.”

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