open access

Vol 66, No 2 (2015)
MARITIME MEDICINE Review article
Published online: 2015-06-17
Submitted: 2015-06-17
Accepted: 2015-06-17
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Referring cruise ship patients to specialists in Norway — a welfare state with a national health care system

Eilif Dahl
DOI: 10.5603/IMH.2015.0017
·
Pubmed: 26119674
·
International Maritime Health 2015;66(2):67-71.

open access

Vol 66, No 2 (2015)
MARITIME MEDICINE Review article
Published online: 2015-06-17
Submitted: 2015-06-17
Accepted: 2015-06-17

Abstract

Northern Europe is a popular cruise destination, but many non-Scandinavian cruise ship’s doctors who are used to enthusiastic service from specialists ashore, get frustrated when referring passengers or crew to out-patient medical evaluation. Norway’s national health care system is described and used as an example of medical conditions in a welfare state with a relatively well-functioning national health care system: Emergency cases are usually promptly admitted. Out-patient specialist consultations are available in public polyclinics, but waiting time can be considerable, also for patients from ships. Private specialists are fully booked weeks in advance and do not work from Friday to Monday and during holidays. Public and private medical service capacity is significantly reduced during the summer months. Hence, most specialists ashore are not eager to see demanding ship patients. Ship’s doctors should limit referral to conditions that require specific procedures that are not available on the vessel but are necessary for the patient to be able to continue cruising or working aboard. Crewmembers who are unfit for work aboard, should instead be signed off and repatriated for diagnostic work-up and follow-up at home. In cases of hospitalisation or necessary referral ashore, the ship’s doctor should always confer in advance with the company’s ship’s port agents and make necessary shore-side arrangements through them.  

Abstract

Northern Europe is a popular cruise destination, but many non-Scandinavian cruise ship’s doctors who are used to enthusiastic service from specialists ashore, get frustrated when referring passengers or crew to out-patient medical evaluation. Norway’s national health care system is described and used as an example of medical conditions in a welfare state with a relatively well-functioning national health care system: Emergency cases are usually promptly admitted. Out-patient specialist consultations are available in public polyclinics, but waiting time can be considerable, also for patients from ships. Private specialists are fully booked weeks in advance and do not work from Friday to Monday and during holidays. Public and private medical service capacity is significantly reduced during the summer months. Hence, most specialists ashore are not eager to see demanding ship patients. Ship’s doctors should limit referral to conditions that require specific procedures that are not available on the vessel but are necessary for the patient to be able to continue cruising or working aboard. Crewmembers who are unfit for work aboard, should instead be signed off and repatriated for diagnostic work-up and follow-up at home. In cases of hospitalisation or necessary referral ashore, the ship’s doctor should always confer in advance with the company’s ship’s port agents and make necessary shore-side arrangements through them.  

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Keywords

ship’s doctor, specialist referral, hospitalisation ashore, ship’s port agent, cruise medicine

About this article
Title

Referring cruise ship patients to specialists in Norway — a welfare state with a national health care system

Journal

International Maritime Health

Issue

Vol 66, No 2 (2015)

Pages

67-71

Published online

2015-06-17

DOI

10.5603/IMH.2015.0017

Pubmed

26119674

Bibliographic record

International Maritime Health 2015;66(2):67-71.

Keywords

ship’s doctor
specialist referral
hospitalisation ashore
ship’s port agent
cruise medicine

Authors

Eilif Dahl

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