Vol 67, No 4 (2016)
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Published online: 2016-12-22

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Eighty years of CIRM. A journey of commitment and dedication in providing maritime medical assistance

Syed Sarosh Mahdi, Francesco Amenta
Pubmed: 28009394
IMH 2016;67(4):187-195.


Background: A review of activities of Centro Internazionale Radio Medico (International Radio Medical Centre, CIRM) from its foundation in 1935 until its 80th anniversary in 2015 was accomplished. CIRM was founded in 1935 to provide medical assistance via radio to ships with no doctor on board and other distant patients who cannot be reached by a doctor. In 1950 CIRM was established as a non-profit-making foundation and has benefited since 1957 from an annual contribution from the Italian government.

Methods: Review of CIRM case histories and other published material from 1935 to 2015 and presenting them in a scientific yet simplified manner through the use of basic mathematical analysis. All the data was collected from CIRM’s official archives in Rome.

Results and Conclusions: The results achieved by the Centre over 80 years include medical assistance to 81,016 patients on board ships (as well as on small islands and aircraft), with more than 500,000 medical messages received and transmitted. CIRM from its inception was organised into a medical service, a telecommunications service and a studies section. In 2002 the Centre was recognised as the Italian Telemedical Maritime Assistance Service (TMAS). In the 2010 the Centre was reorganised as a structure articulated in 4 departments, namely maritime telemedicine, telecommunication, research and occupational medicine. This was achieved to cover the different activities related to comprehensive health protection of seafarers. The 24-h continuous medical service is provided by doctors at the CIRM headquarters. The doctor on duty gives instructions for managing the case and continues to follow the patient with subsequent appointments until recovery or landing. In case of emergencies CIRM co-ordinates the transfer of patients assisted on board ships to a hospital ashore. CIRM has developed innovative approaches for the treatment of diseases and accidents on board of seagoing vessels by introducing standard telemedicine equipment on board ships, allowing the transmission of biomedical data from ships to the Centre. These new solutions are aimed at bringing a significant improvement of medical care for seafarers.

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