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Monday, July 8, 2013

Dangers at Sea 3

Cruise Ship Fire
I can’t imagine ever finding myself stranded without transportation.  Whenever a winter windstorm knocks out our electrical power and television cable, I can’t tell you how many times I will walk into a room and try to turn on the power.  Seldom happens but whenever one of our vehicles is involved in a required repair where it has to be sent to the shop, I will always rent a car for the duration, I don’t like being without control.  Now picture yourself stranded on a cruise ship days out at sea, to say rudderless is not an exaggeration.

·       Mechanical difficulties and their consequences: Mechanical difficulties and fires on cruise ships have made headlines; thousands of passengers have been stranded for hours or even days at sea, often without power to support effective refrigeration, food preparation or sewage disposal. Backed-up toilets and leaking human waste can easily spread infections such as E. coli or norovirus. “Because of multiple routes of transmission, it is difficult to contain outbreaks,” Boctor says.

·       To reduce the risk of infections, Boctor advises that “special attention should be taken while removing vomitus and fecal material; surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected, and cleaners should be wearing protective equipment including, gloves, masks and gowns.” Norovirus can be resistant to common disinfectants. The CDC recommends that cruise-ship passengers wash their hands with anti-bacterial soap after using the toilet and before eating or drinking, in order to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses.

Now imagine yourself or a loved one getting a minor illness, and not being in the care of a physician that you know and trust, or that minimally came highly recommended.

·       Unqualified doctors: The ship’s infirmary may be staffed by an earnest health-care provider in a starched white coat, but there’s no guarantee that the “doctor” on duty is licensed to practice medicine in the United States – or anywhere at all.

·       “Historically, doctors were signed up to work for three to six months at a time, paid a salary and part of the proceeds of what was sold in the ships’ infirmaries,” attorney Lipcon says, “and they could be licensed anywhere, including in the country of the ship’s flag. The cruise line is not responsible for bad medical care as long as they hire a qualified physician.” Lipcon has even seen cases where the ship’s doctor didn’t have a license but was “just a graduate of a medical school in the Dominican Republic.”

Once again no one is really suggesting that cruise ships are all bad, but some have recently suffered from less than ideal PR.  A few too many incidences of illness, mechanical problems, and power failures speak volumes.  Do your due diligence if you are considering a cruise.  The best is yet to come…

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