Stephanie Chen wrote an article in today’s Wall Street Journal (Oct. 24, 2007) about the problems with getting sick at sea on a cruise ship. Trouble at Sea: Free-Agent Doctors. (free article)
Well, that would be a incorrect assumption because according to the article most cruise ship doctors are considered independent contractors and not part of the crew. Therefore, shipowners are basically free from liability due to malpractice. The problem can be compounded by the issue that some ship board medical personnel just aren’t as competent as their shoreside counterparts.
While it does seem that the author uses some pretty board strokes to paint a bleak picture in this article, she also writes:
Cruise-industry officials say concerns about onboard health care are overblown and that doctors provide excellent care to hundreds of thousands of passengers each season…A Carnival Cruise Lines spokeswoman said that among 26 million passengers on its ships over the past 10 years, “the incidences of medical malpractice have been so limited as to be statistically insignificant.”
- Purchase travel health insurance for emergency coverage and evacuation
- Discuss your medical condition with the ship’s doctor in advance
- Carry copies of your medical records
- Bring extra prescription medications
- Bring extra money for emergency doctor and hospital visits.
Sounds like good advice for safe and healthy cruising. Bon voyage!