There’s more to great medical care than having the latest technologies and a well-equipped care team. For US Olympic team Dr. Gloria M. Beim, great medical care meant a whole lot of learning: learning to make the call to withdraw ill athletes, to detect drugs that are prohibited by the anti-doping agency, and learning a new language.
The cold and the flu are known to be frequent visitors during the winter season in all parts of the world. This is no different in Sochi, Russia where the average temperature in the month of February rarely surpasses 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Although Dr. Beim doesn’t recall withdrawing any athletes from the games because of a respiratory illness, she remains cognizant for the respiratoryillnesses that are life-threatening or that may potentially compromise an athlete’s ability to compete in the Olympic Games.
Dr. Beim, along with the medical director of the US Olympic Committee, is involved in checking that medications taken by athletes are not prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). They review athlete history forms and ensure that those who are taking a banned substance for medical reasons have the proper documentation to prove it. They then submit these forms to the WADA for approval. Insulin, for example, must be approved by the WADA before it can be used. Olympic doctors are also involved in conducting doping tests, ensuring that athletes present the proper documentation and that the tests are done correctly.
Just a day after Dr.Beim found out that she would be attending the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, she began learning the Russian language in hopes of being able to interact and communicate with the locals, especially in the event that an athlete must be treated in a hospital. It has now been almost one year since she began her lessons and she is confident that what she has learned will come in handy at the Winter Games as well as further expand her mind about global medicine.
Read the rest of Dr. Beim’s interview at Medscape.
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