The principles of writing the medical guide for ships.Int Marit Health. 2003; 54(1-4):169-76.IM
The medical training and skills of seafarers are rather limited. In Finland, the master is responsible for medical care of his crew members, having only a 5-day training in medical matters which is refreshed every year. As medical incidents are rather rare events on board ship, he has not many opportunities to increase his knowledge in this field. Highly educated and experienced medical doctors have written medical guides for ships, describing diseases and advising on their treatment. This advice is based on diagnoses made on board ship by masters. They are often incorrect, therefore the advice on treatment may also be not correct. Authors of medical guides for ships should take into consideration the limited skills and medical knowledge of persons responsible for providing health services for crews at sea. This service is usually limited to giving first aid in accidents and sudden diseases, and care of the injured or sick seafarer until he can be transported to a medical facility on shore. Long lists of possible diagnoses in the text of such a guide only cause confusion in situations on board ship. In the new edition of the guide published in Finland in 2002, the advice on treatment is based on symptoms rather than on diagnoses.