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Medical Matters at sea.

Medical Seminar for OCC Members Messages in this topic - RSS

Simon Currin
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1/24/2016
Simon Currin
Administrator
Posts: 672
So one tangible benefit of an OCC could be an afternoon spent on therapeutics in order to acquire the basic information to inform the use of commonly carried drugs. I would them be happy to issue prescriptions and paperwork to support member 's confronted by difficult customs officials. Would that be helpful? This could only help uk residents source drugs but perhaps we could persuade other occ doctors in other countries to join in?
Simon

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Simon Currin
S/V Shimshal simon@medex.org.uk
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Dick
Posts: 219


1/24/2016
Dick
Posts: 219
Hi Simon and Caroline,
Of the dozens of cruisers I know who are passage makers and in need of a (hopefully never used) supply of prescription meds, there are two major methods: if your Dr. is aware of passage making preparedness needs and is willing to work with you, then he/she might accommodate. Most do not have the time/interest. More often there is a friend/acquaintance who is a Dr. and is willing to cut scrips. If you do not have a Dr. friend willing, you might explore your club/association etc. where there may be a Dr. familiar with passage making needs who would work with you.
With access to a Dr. (maybe also a pharmacist, Physician’s Assistant or nurse), it is worth the effort to spend an afternoon going over the various antibiotics/painkillers etc. and making notes on dosage, different properties (which is good for what), expiry (often a longer span than written on the bottle, especially if stored properly) etc. Keep these notes in a central location and an individual copy with each med. Do not expect you will remember.
Some thoughts on dealing with officials: Always keep the original prescription/paperwork for each med. Have a spread sheet which lists the prescription drugs carried with space to document usage/dates/diagnosis etc. (For US boats, separate out the “Controlled Substances” and highlight: not sure how the UK manages those meds with addictive potential). I also drafted a letter from my Dr. where he signed off on: prescribing the meds, the reason (days or weeks from help), that he had trained us in their use, and that we would report to him their use when/if this occurred.
Finally, we have had dozens of officials ask us whether we have drugs on board. We chose to consider the question as referring to illegal/recreational type drugs and always answered “no”, but I was suspecting the question covered prescription drugs as well, but was loath to open up our substantial medical chest for review. This suspicion was confirmed when we were in St. Petersburg a few years back (before the club cruise so some might have heard this report already) and a boat reported no drugs and dogs found his med chest with a big no-no substance in Russia (codeine in the Tylenol I think). In any case, the officials were most concerned that they felt they were lied to. He was briefly arrested, but, with help, things were straightened out, but it could have gotten more difficult.
I hope this helps.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

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Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
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Simon Currin
Administrator
Posts: 672


1/23/2016
Simon Currin
Administrator
Posts: 672
Caroline
I am wondering how most cruisers source their drugs and what they carry? I would be happy to share what we left the UK with this summer to start our circumnavigation but it might not be so appropriate as we oviously have a medic on board.

I would be very happy to host a weekend meeting to share experiencesanxieties and knowledge and provide some practical skills training. Don 't want to compete head on with the RYA but I am firmly of the belief that we all have much to learn from each other in the OCC.

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Simon Currin
S/V Shimshal simon@medex.org.uk
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Dick
Posts: 219


1/23/2016
Dick
Posts: 219
Hi Caroline & Robert,
When I researched medical courses my memory (it was 15 years ago and this was in the US) was that the Ship’s Medical Officer courses were not well designed for the kinds of issues that cruisers might face: as you put it “a week or so from land”. I do not remember the details however, but I believe they had to do with the Ship’s far better availability of communications/medical consult expertise and the amount of available supplies/equipment. Things may have changed and/or be different in the UK. The expense was also an issue as individuals did not pay, the companies did, and prices reflected this commercial aspect.
I believe wilderness emergency medical training comes closest to the emergency medical needs of the offshore sailor, but I am not sure what the UK has to offer in this realm. If interested in remote, you might try the book I mentioned in an earlier email.
Please let us know what you find that seems to work in getting educated/trained in this area.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

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Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
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aragorn
Posts: 4


1/23/2016
aragorn
Posts: 4
Simon, for us it 's the issue of being offshore and say a week or so from land. We have done the Rya first aid course and know that the next step probably is ships medical but other than signing up for the arc or paying around £1000 to do the course, it 's what we could do practically in the interim and what drugs etc we could get from a friendly gp in our local surgery if we explained the situation.
Any form of remote joining a session would help - or written guidelines or a session ... we would be interested
Caroline & Robert - Yacht Aragorn
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Dick
Posts: 219


1/11/2016
Dick
Posts: 219
Hi Simon,
There certainly should be a demand.
For me, a good medical course such as you are describing is essential preparation to wandering at sea. There are skills one expects to use: piloting and navigation. And there are skills one hopes never to exercise: MOB and medical skills for two. My observation from 40 years of cruising 13 of them full time live aboard, is that the skills one hopes never to use get woefully neglected.
An abbreviated course might be considered for those whose intentions are local sailing (coastal cruising) where help is generally ready at hand and the necessary skills are of the First Responder/EMS variety.
Those venturing on passages, have an obligation to themselves and their crew (at least to my mind) to have significant skills in this area of medical evaluation and intervention, regularly updated.
And I would go a step further than wondering whether there is demand by pushing a little harder and suggesting that those skippers (and crew) venturing on passages do a two-day course and that coastal cruisers have a one-day course in the medical skills necessary for evaluation and intervention commensurate with the availability of land based medical facilities. This (and refresher activities) I consider minimum levels for skippers to go to sea.
I have watched (and read a number) of the books generated for sailors and none check the boxes better (for me) than Jeff Isaac’s book(s). His particular approach seems well suited to the practical issues faced by those with a medical emergency at sea. He also is a superb instructor which I know first-hand as he gives a 2/3 day course under the umbrella on Offshore Navigator magazine.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

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Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
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Bill Balme
Posts: 137


1/4/2016
Bill Balme
Posts: 137
Hi Simon, sounds like a good idea - wonder if you 'd be able to do it over the web?

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Bill Balme
s/v Toodle-oo!
Outbound 44 #27
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Simon Currin
Administrator
Posts: 672


1/3/2016
Simon Currin
Administrator
Posts: 672
We were wondering if there might be a demand for a weekend medical seminar specifically for cruisers far from shore let alone home? I would be happy to facilitate this being a UK GP, an active cruiser and with 25 years of experience in remote mountain medical matters. I wouldn 't propose a rigid course but rather shape it to fit the experience and concerns of those attending. The aim would be to share experiences and skills in an informal environment.

What are your thoughts? Is there a need? What subjects should be tackled? Formal or informal?

Simon

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Simon Currin
S/V Shimshal simon@medex.org.uk
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