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MEDICAL CARE ONBOARD CRUISE SHIPS

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					MEDICAL CARE ONBOARD CRUISE SHIPS


                                                       ment and procedures in medical infir-

   W
            hen vacationers embark on a
            cruise, the last thing they want to        maries on cruise ships. This effort coincid-
            think about is the need for medical        ed with that of the American College of
    attention. The ICCL is dedicated to help-          Emergency Physicians (ACEP), the nation’s
    ing the cruise industry provide a safe,            leading and largest professional organiza-
    healthy, secure and caring ship environ-           tion of such specialists, representing over
    ment for both passengers and crew.                 20,000 practicing emergency and other
    Among those services that illustrate this          physicians in the United States and
    commitment to passenger welfare are the            abroad. ACEP’s Section of Cruise Ship and
    shipboard medical infirmaries found on             Maritime Medicine is specifically dedicated
    all ICCL member vessels. ICCL cruise               to training, education and research in the
    operators are committed to providing               advancement of shipboard medical care.
    excellent first response and emergency
                                                       As a result of cooperative efforts between
    care to passengers until they can be
                                                       experienced cruise ship physicians and the
    transferred to a shoreside medical facility.
                                                       ACEP, all ICCL cruise line operators have
    All of the ICCL cruise lines operating in          agreed to meet or exceed the require-
    the North American market have volun-              ments of the ACEP Health Care Guidelines
                                  SOME CRUISE LINES
                                                       for Cruise Ship Medical Facilities.

                                  ESTABLISH LINKS TO
                                                       The medical facilities guidelines were put
                                  SHORESIDE MEDICAL    into place to provide: (1) reasonable
                                  FACILITIES VIA       emergency medical care for passengers
                                  INTERNET OR          and crew; (2) the capability to stabilize
                                  SATELLITE-BASED
                                                       patients and/or initiate reasonable diag-
                                                       nostic and therapeutic intervention; and
                                  COMMUNICATIONS
                                                       (3) the evacuation of seriously ill or
                                                       injured patients when deemed necessary
                                                       by a shipboard physician.
    tarily provided medical facilities onboard
    their vessels, even though neither interna-        Included in the policies are procedures
    tional law nor U.S. law requires them to           regarding 24-hour medical services and
    do so.                                             staff. Personnel are board
                                                       certified or hold equivalent international
    The cruise industry has taken an active
                                                       certification, or have general
    role in addressing the quality of shipboard
                                                       practice and emergency or criti-
    medical care. In 1995, the ICCL and its
                                                       cal care experience.
    member lines formed a Medical Facilities
    Working Group to develop industry-wide             Personnel must also be conver-
    guidelines for the facilities, staffing, equip-    sant in English, possess a current
                                                     health requirements when deciding on the
                                                     length and type of cruise. A person with a
                                                     serious medical condition should consult
                                                     with their personal physician before taking
                                                     any type of vacation.

                                                     It is important to note that the ACEP
valid medical license, and have three years          guidelines are not intended to constitute
of clinical experience, including minor sur-         medical advice, or to establish standards of
gical skills.                                        care applicable to the industry as a whole.
The ACEP medical facilities guidelines               They reflect consensus among member
specify the type and quantity of equip-              lines of the facilities and staffing needs
ment that must be available onboard,                 considered appropriate aboard cruise ves-
such as x-ray, defibrillators, EKG, wheel-           sels, within the recognized limitations of
chairs, portable oxygen, to name a few,              the sea environment. However, the prac-
as well as medicines that must be main-
tained onboard.                                       FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT
                                                      MEDICAL FACILITIES GUIDELINES
A number of cruise lines have established             ONBOARD CRUISE SHIPS:
links with shoreside medical institutions
that provide consultation. In some cases,             International Council of Cruise Lines -
they use Internet or satellite-based com-             www.iccl.org/policies/medical.htm
munication to assist in the management                American College of Emergency Physicians -
of complex and emergency situations.                  www.acep.org/1,593,0.html
Satellite-transmitted radiographs or
x-rays, live video and audio, and links to           tices of individual cruise lines and ship-
specialists around the world, including the          board physicians may vary from ship to
medical directors at company headquar-               ship based on several factors including the
ters, are a new and invaluble addition to            size of the vessel, number of passengers
onboard medical services.                            and crew, ship construction, and length
Cruise lines and travel agents encourage             and itinerary of voyage.
cruise vacationers to obtain travel med-
                                                     While the cruise industry is aware that
ical insurance, to travel with extra sup-
                                                     some of the passengers may have health
plies of prescription medications and
                                                     needs during a cruise, a cruise ship is not
devices and to fully disclose pre-existing
                                                     a floating hospital or comprehensive
medical conditions before sailing. They
                                                     medical provider. However,
point out that many regular health insur-
                                                     increasingly sophisticated equip-
ance plans do not provide coverage when
                                                     ment and extensive training
travelers are outside the United States.
                                                     have made cruise vessels one of
Prior to booking a cruise, passengers                the safest places to vacation in
should assess and consider individual                the travel industry.



              International Council of Cruise Lines • 2111 Wilson Boulevard, 8th Floor
                     Arlington, VA 22201 • 703-522-8463 • 703-522-3811 (FAX)
                                    www.iccl.org • info@iccl.org

				
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posted:7/23/2011
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