Telemedical Advice to Long-Distance Passenger Ferries

Olaf C. Jensen, Niels Bo Bøggild, Søren Kristensen
DOI: 254-260 First published online: 1 September 2005


Background Radio medical (RM) advice for seafarers and traveling passengers is important and can be crucial for the optimal medical treatment on board ships. The aim of this study was to analyze the data from consultations with passenger ferries to identify areas for possible improvements.

Methods Data from the journals for 1 year from Radio Medical Denmark consultations with the medical officers on passenger ferries were analyzed retrospectively.

Results Two hundred fourteen RM records, 73% pertaining to passengers and 27% for crew members, were analyzed. Passenger patients were generally older and more seriously ill than patients among the crew. A high number of potential and life-threatening medical conditions such as angina pectoris was seen among the passengers, and nine of these patients were evacuated by helicopter. Sixty-three percent (n = 135) of the calls related to pain complaints, and more than half of these involved severe or considerable pain. Only acetaminophen (paracetamol) and opioids were in the ferry medicine chest. At least 77 patients would have benefited from use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Conclusions The paramedical assistance and the medicine chest contents were considered insufficient in several cases. Passengers and crew members with chronic illnessess should be thoroughly prepared and advised before their travels.