Inadequate Medical ScreeningDo I Have a Case?
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Inadequate medical screening can be the cause of a serious or fatal scuba diving accident. Although this subject can be controversial, there are a number of reported cases of divers who have died because of physical conditions that made it imprudent for the diver to have ever entered the water as a scuba diver. Although this may not sound politically correct, truly obese individuals create a special problem with regard to scuba diving. The simple process of suiting up to dive, that is, donning the wet suit or dry suit, scuba cylinder, and other equipment, coupled with the mental and physical stress of the dive itself, have a known propensity to generate medical problems including cardiac and respiratory problems, especially in the obese.
This is not to say overweight people should not dive, it is simply to say that extremely obese individuals are at a heightened risk of a medical event. An extremely obese individual is also difficult to rescue in the event of a medical emergency. The issue becomes, why did the instructor or certifying agency certify an individual to dive if the individual by virtue of obesity or other health problems presents an unreasonable risk to himself or others?
There is substantial debate about whether certain conditions such as diabetes and asthma should preclude individuals from ever taking up the sport of diving due to increased danger of physiological problems related to these medical conditions. Although generally speaking, an adult is free to assume the risk that his or her medical condition might entail, this presupposes that the individual has been made aware of the risk. Sometimes dive operators are complicit in encouraging the prospective student diver to sign a medical form denying that a medical condition exists when the dive operator has in fact been told about the condition. In such an instance, the diver operator is presumably aware of the risk but the student diver may not be fully aware of the danger. For this reason, divers should be 100% honest in filing out all medical forms related to diving and should never permit the dive operator to encourage a “gloss over.” When in doubt, a physician should be consulted to make a specific determination regarding scuba diving.We can help you find out more about what role a possible medical condition may have played in you or your loved one’s diving accident.