to the editor: I read Dr. Searle's letter to the editor in American Family Physician1 and agree that screening criteria are not met with athletic cardiovascular screening. However, I would like to share some of my experiences doing “athletic screening” examinations at a local high school.
I performed physical examinations for $10 each every summer for athletes at Stephen Decatur High School in Berlin, Md., for seven years. I examined anyone who wished to participate in athletics, but the real impetus was to offer examinations to children who would otherwise not be able to afford a physical in a private physician's office. Not only did I uncover several clinically significant heart problems but also found cases of sexually transmitted disease, undertreated asthma, high blood pressure, childhood obesity, and one case of chronic obstructive renal failure.
I certainly agree with Dr. Searle's opinion regarding the statistics he presented. It would be my hope that those numbers would not deter physicians from doing examinations on student athletes. Children, especially adolescents, are not examined enough as it is. Let's not lose sight of the value of these encounters.