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Chiropractic Research Review

Cruise Ship Passengers: Be Prepared!

Going on an ocean cruise is synonymous in the popular mind with pampered relaxation and carefree days of good eating and entertainment in exotic far-away places. Unfortunately the health-related realities are much less glamorous and reassuring.

Isolated, at sea, on a floating "island" far from any land, passengers who suffer illness or injury are at the mercy of the health care provided on the ship.

The objective of this study was to provide information for use in the formation of guidelines concerning medical facilities and staff on cruise ships. This review of patient documents was made of cruises in one calendar year by four ships of a major cruise line. Patient-physician encounters involving 7,147 new patient visits occurred in a population of 196,171 passengers and 1,537,298 passenger-days. The results showed 11% of patients had a serious or potentially life-threatening diagnosis.

Conclusion: "Many different injuries and illnesses occur on board cruise ships. The spectrum is similar in many respects to the patients presenting to emergency departments." The authors say that cruise lines must prepare for medical contingencies by providing appropriately qualified and equipped medical personnel guided by established procedures.

Peake, DE, Gray CL, Ludwig MR, Hill CD. Descriptive epidemiology of injury and illness among cruise ship passengers. Annals of Emergency Medicine, Jan. 1999;33(1), pp67-72.

Chiropractic Research Review

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