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Medical Facility on Princess Ships

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Is there some document or other information that outlines what medical procedures can be performed on the ship and when they will require you to get off the ship for medical attention?

 

We are traveling with my 95 year old Mother who recently was hospitalized for gall stones. Her Doctors have stated there is no way to determine if she will have another attack and have encouraged us to take our cruise (Christmas on the Island Princess). However, our concern is if she were to have another attack would they require us to get off the ship in Mexico, Guatemala or Nicaragua or would they treat her on the ship?

 

We have Princess Insurance but I cannot find any document that outlines what conditions they can treat on the ship or when they would require us to get off the ship. We are concerned about having my Mother hospitalized off the ship.

 

Any information is appreciated.

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You may want to call Princess and ask. What I can say is I was surprised at how advanced the facilities were and I was once on a princess ship where we did an open sea rescue of a very sick person that was on another boat and took them to Panama for treatment. BTW make sure you have travel/medical insurance that covers pre-existing conditions and a large evacuation allowance. They will evac you by air to first rate medical facilities if you need it.

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We did the Ultimate Ship Tour in August on the Emerald.

 

I am a nurse and was really interested in the medical facilities and really impressed with what they can do. I also asked a ton of questions.

 

They have capacity to do ICU care (2 patients) along with your typical gastritis, respiratory illness, simple fractures, stitches and all the typical first aid.

 

I asked about surgery on board and the Doctor said they could do simple stuff. Of course I had to ask what simple meant and she laughed and said sutures, removal of foreign bodies and non compound fractures. She said appendix and gall bladders were out and they made arrangements to move those patients to a land based hospital.

 

She also said strokes and heart attacks were also moved to land based hospitals immediately.

 

Now that doesn't mean they would not take care of your mom if she had another attack. They have x-ray and sonogram machines. If it was a mild attack and she just needed fluids and pain medicine they could do that. If it was an obstruction that needed surgery then she would be taken to the nearest port to a land based hospital.

 

Now with that being said and having just had a stroke a month ago myself I say GO FOR IT life is to short.

 

If she is 95 and wants to go on a cruise for Christmas, sounds like through the Panama Canal, take her and have a great time and make wonderful memories.

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I very much doubt such a list exists. And even if one did solely for internal circulation it may not ever be put in writing, only to be discussed by the decision making parties on the Q.T.

 

The decision to medically disembark a passenger is made by the Captain in consultation with the medical staff. The nature of the patient's malady is judged against factors such as the drain their treatment would place on the medical staff and facilites--would there still be sufficient resources should another emergency befall on of the 3,000-odd passengers and crew of Island? Plus how long are the gaps between ports with hospitals able to accept her transfer--a Panama Canal cruise has several segments of consecutive sea days.

 

Should your mother decide to take the cruise--and I am not suggesting she not--be sure to ask her physician for a two week supply of the max dose of whichever painkillers she was given. Because if the ship's doctor judges she need a palliative-care-level of pain meds she will almost certainly be put off at the next port--narcotics and a 95 year old patient are not something the Captain will want the responsibility of. I developed gall stones in my late 30s and it took elephantine doses of morphine each time I had a flare up. And when they finally took me to surgery my common duct was more than 95% obstructed. So the question is, would you or she want an unfamiliar surgeon in a facility of indeterminate quality dealing with such a case?

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The medical staff can X-ray and set broken bones, give transfusions, do very minor procedures that wouldn’t require anything other than a local aesthetic, etc. They cannot do surgery. Gall stones, kidney stones, appendicitis, diverticulitis, etc. would be evacuated.

 

Insurance gets very complicated if there’s a pre-existing condition. MedJetAssist is probably not an option for the elderly. At 75, the rates go way up and require a medical exam.

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Unfortunately I had to use the Regal's medical Center a few days ago. They have beds with the equipment to monitor vitals, an x-ray machine and well stocked pharmacy. They may have more but that's all I saw first hand.

 

 

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The medical staff aboard is required to be certified in ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support), and so should be able to handle many sorts of problems .... kind of like an ER on the sea.

For serious or critical ailments they cannot completely handle aboard ...they can stabilize the patient as much as is possible and provide supportive care for them until they can be evacuated to a shoreside hospital.

 

I am a retired RN, and have made it a point to chat up the nurses on the ships whenever I have had an opportunity. How the medical center is staffed and equipped, and what they are stocked with is quite impressive ...... and reassuring.

 

I'm not quite as elderly as OP's mother, but am past the 75 mark, and still can have MedJetAssist coverage ..... for about $80 more per year than the cost for those under 75, provided my personal physician completes a required form vouching for me being healthy enough to travel. So far, he has been happy to do that for me.

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Thank you all for the information on the medical facility, much, much appreciated. Yes, this is a Panama Canal cruise and yes the issue is gall stones. If it was like her prior situation she would not require surgery but would require fluids, pain medication, and antibiotics.

 

I have looked into regular travel insurance and Med-Vac Assist but the cost is very high because of her age. That is main reason we chose the Princess Insurance because it is the same cost no matter the age. Of course that was prior to her gall bladder attack and even if she wanted to consider it now it likely would be considered a pre-existing condition and not cover her anyway.

 

Her GI Doctor has said there are no easy answers. He said she may never have another attack or she could have one tomorrow. He also encouraged us to go on the cruise so we are now leaning in that direction.

 

Again thanks for all of the information - while much of it backs up what I think I already knew it does confirm some of the information and I learned a few new things.

 

Jill

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Thank you all for the information on the medical facility, much, much appreciated. Yes, this is a Panama Canal cruise and yes the issue is gall stones. If it was like her prior situation she would not require surgery but would require fluids, pain medication, and antibiotics.

 

I have looked into regular travel insurance and Med-Vac Assist but the cost is very high because of her age. That is main reason we chose the Princess Insurance because it is the same cost no matter the age. Of course that was prior to her gall bladder attack and even if she wanted to consider it now it likely would be considered a pre-existing condition and not cover her anyway.

 

Her GI Doctor has said there are no easy answers. He said she may never have another attack or she could have one tomorrow. He also encouraged us to go on the cruise so we are now leaning in that direction.

 

Again thanks for all of the information - while much of it backs up what I think I already knew it does confirm some of the information and I learned a few new things.

 

Jill

 

Take her on the cruise and purchase medivac insurance.

Princess medical on the Regal did an outstanding job on my 4 year old grandson who hit his head just above the eye on the dining room table the very first night at dinner.

 

24919780748_700e3bf19e_z.jpgCarter DSC_2371 by Howard , on Flickr

 

They even brought cookies to his cabin as he missed desert

 

Howard

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I’ve been wondering about this myself. The last few months I’ve been getting a migraine during my time of month and have had to go to er twice because my meds weren’t working. My time of month (sorry guys, tmi I know) falls on my cruise week this month ughhhh and I’m scared that I might need to use the medical facilities. Has anyone had to use it for migraine? I hope they are well stocked with pain medication LOL!

 

I want to do the tour, sounds interesting!

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I can't speak for Princess medical Staff but we were on the Serenade of the Seas ( RCCL ) this past August when my husband suffered a heart attack, until we got to St Johns where he was hospitalized both the Hospital there and at home in Calif where he was later medivac'd, were amazed at the medical attention my husband was given.

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In Sept this year prior to boarding the Caribbean Princess we, the Wife, and her Sister and her Husband stayed over in London to go sight seeing. Using different TA's we stayed at different Hotels so we did not know what happened until later.

The second day, while riding a hop on/hop off bus, my Sister in Law thought the bus had stopped so she started down the stairs. The Bus moved, Stopped, Moved again and stopped again. This process tossed her down the stairs.

The driver offered to call an ambulance, but she thought that she was just sore from the impact and was not bleeding.

Fast forward to the Mustard Drill. Sister in Law looked like she had been run over by an elephant which cause my Wife a lot of concern.

Sister in Law was reluctant to go to the Ships Medical facility, so we went down there and talked to the head Nurse. Told her what happened and the Sister in Laws feelings. Nurse said go back and get her. She needs to be looked at.

Long story short. Sister in Law was X-Rayed, discovered 3 cracked ribs, and was given Meds for the pain. The Doctor even insisted that she come back again the next day, no charge, just so he could check on her.

Charges were placed on her ship account.

Back home she filed with insurance and quickly received a check.

All in All the ship board Medical unit treated her very well

Bob

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I’ve been wondering about this myself. The last few months I’ve been getting a migraine during my time of month and have had to go to er twice because my meds weren’t working.

 

If I were you - I would speak to your local doctor and see if he can prescribe a medication for you in advance.

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In Sept this year prior to boarding the Caribbean Princess we, the Wife, and her Sister and her Husband stayed over in London to go sight seeing. Using different TA's we stayed at different Hotels so we did not know what happened until later.

The second day, while riding a hop on/hop off bus, my Sister in Law thought the bus had stopped so she started down the stairs. The Bus moved, Stopped, Moved again and stopped again. This process tossed her down the stairs.

The driver offered to call an ambulance, but she thought that she was just sore from the impact and was not bleeding.

Fast forward to the Mustard Drill. Sister in Law looked like she had been run over by an elephant which cause my Wife a lot of concern.

Sister in Law was reluctant to go to the Ships Medical facility, so we went down there and talked to the head Nurse. Told her what happened and the Sister in Laws feelings. Nurse said go back and get her. She needs to be looked at.

Long story short. Sister in Law was X-Rayed, discovered 3 cracked ribs, and was given Meds for the pain. The Doctor even insisted that she come back again the next day, no charge, just so he could check on her.

Charges were placed on her ship account.

Back home she filed with insurance and quickly received a check.

All in All the ship board Medical unit treated her very well

Bob

 

Not to be noisy - but 'approximately' how much did that visit cost including x-ray and med, etc - and obviously you can ignore - but it might help the forum posters to get an idea of the cost as compared to on land:cool:

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Not to be noisy - but 'approximately' how much did that visit cost including x-ray and med, etc - and obviously you can ignore - but it might help the forum posters to get an idea of the cost as compared to on land:cool:

 

I had the misfortune to need to visit the medical center last week on the Star. $95.00 to be seen by the doctor. Any medications or diagnostic tests were additional. Hope that is helpful.

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voljeep, the 1 night emergency ( husbands heart attack until we were transferred to Newfoundland rounded off, was $12,000.00 our medical insurance is sending me a check for the full amount after I sent them the full medical cost and receipt of payment from my Credit Card. This will pay off my CC.

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t.....

I'm not quite as elderly as op's mother, but am past the 75 mark, and still can have medjetassist coverage ..... For about $80 more per year than the cost for those under 75, provided my personal physician completes a required form vouching for me being healthy enough to travel. So far, he has been happy to do that for me.

diamond memberships (age 75-84)-the diamond membership offered by medjet is available to individuals age 75 to 84. Diamond members are limited to one medical transport per membership year, otherwise enjoy all the same benefits as all other medjetassist members. For this membership, we do require a brief health questionnaire and medical statement form be completed.

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Is there some document or other information that outlines what medical procedures can be performed on the ship and when they will require you to get off the ship for medical attention?

 

We are traveling with my 95 year old Mother who recently was hospitalized for gall stones. Her Doctors have stated there is no way to determine if she will have another attack and have encouraged us to take our cruise (Christmas on the Island Princess). However, our concern is if she were to have another attack would they require us to get off the ship in Mexico, Guatemala or Nicaragua or would they treat her on the ship?

 

We have Princess Insurance but I cannot find any document that outlines what conditions they can treat on the ship or when they would require us to get off the ship. We are concerned about having my Mother hospitalized off the ship.

 

Any information is appreciated.

 

 

Is it possible for her to have the gallstones removed prior to the cruise? From everything I know and I had mine out at age 42, the Dr said they will only get worse until they are removed.

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Is there some document or other information that outlines what medical procedures can be performed on the ship and when they will require you to get off the ship for medical attention?

 

 

 

We are traveling with my 95 year old Mother who recently was hospitalized for gall stones. Her Doctors have stated there is no way to determine if she will have another attack and have encouraged us to take our cruise (Christmas on the Island Princess). However, our concern is if she were to have another attack would they require us to get off the ship in Mexico, Guatemala or Nicaragua or would they treat her on the ship?

 

 

 

We have Princess Insurance but I cannot find any document that outlines what conditions they can treat on the ship or when they would require us to get off the ship. We are concerned about having my Mother hospitalized off the ship.

 

 

 

Any information is appreciated.

 

 

 

Depending on when you signed for/paid for that insurance, you may or may not have a "waiver of ore-existing conditions." Read you fine print.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

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......it might help the forum posters to get an idea of the cost as compared to on land:cool:

 

I came down with bronchitis on the ship. The doctor listened the my lungs in just 2 spots and charged me $65. I was given a generic Z-pack (5 days of azithromycin) and charged $65!! A generic Z-pack costs about $4 at a pharmacy. On top of it, my insurance wouldn't pay since they said we were in international waters. :(

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Thanks again to all who responded. Very informative.

 

By the way I did email Med Vac Assist - turns out people over 84 can get insurance if they are members of AARP. Think it is $750 per year and only covers international travel. But for us it is now a timing issue. There is quite an extensive medical form to fill out and you have to have all doctors sign the form. Well one of hers is gone for two weeks. And then it takes them 5 to 7 days to approve. And we leave in two and a half weeks. So not sure that will work for her.

 

Regarding having her gall bladder removed we are still waiting for the surgeon to review the case and determine if she is a candidate. If she is, and she would have it removed, she would not recover in time for the cruise, so we would definitely cancel. But at her age surgery is risky and she is not certain she wants to go through it.

 

Now on a related subject (and mainly cause I am curious) has any one had experience with hospitals in Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala or Nicaragua. I am sure they are fine but interesting if there are any first hand experiences. When we were in Cuba we were told that health care is free (for residents) but when they go to hospital they have to bring their own sheets, towels, soap, etc.

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I came down with bronchitis on the ship. The doctor listened the my lungs in just 2 spots and charged me $65. I was given a generic Z-pack (5 days of azithromycin) and charged $65!! A generic Z-pack costs about $4 at a pharmacy. On top of it, my insurance wouldn't pay since they said we were in international waters. :(

A good example of why travel (medical) insurance is a good idea.

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Might I suggest that it may be helpful to take the most recent copies of any lab tests or imaging with you in case she does have an attack onboard. It all helps

Terry

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Not to be noisy - but 'approximately' how much did that visit cost including x-ray and med, etc - and obviously you can ignore - but it might help the forum posters to get an idea of the cost as compared to on land:cool:

 

Since we did not see the Sister in Law until the Mustard Drill and then a phone call between the Wife and her Sister, and a visit to the Clinic for information, and back to the Cabin to Collect the Sister in Law it was after 6:00PM. After 6:00 PM night time office call charges kick in.

Day time was $95.00 for the visit. Night Time was $180.00 for the Visit. Then with X=Rays and Meds, the cost was just short of $400.00. However, the Sister in Law was lucky in the fact that the Doctor wanted to see her again the next day to check her out and to find out how she was sleeping. Doctors concern was that if she did not breath deeply she could go into other problems with her lungs.

Like I said, very good care by the Medical team on the ship.

And, with the Meds provided she was able to the take the 3 hr bus ride into Paris, so she did not miss out on that.

Bob

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Thanks to Flatbush Flyer for mentioning about the pre-existing conditions and the fine print. I decided to review the information and ended up calling Aon Travel (the company that provides the Princess Insurance.)

 

I found out there is a lot I didn't know. First, although we indicated that we wanted the insurance when we initially booked the cruise it does not become effective until it is paid for (in this case final payment). So anything that happens in the 60 days before final payment is not covered.

I was also told by the insurance company that since this was a pre-existing condition that they would not pay us back in cash if we canceled (but probably could get the credit for a future cruise) butalso that if she required care on the ship for something gall bladder related they would not cover the cost.

So most likely we will be canceling the cruise and hopefully will get the credit to use for a future cruise. I may be the only one that did not realize when the effective date of the policy is but in the event I am not passing on the information.

Again thanks to all for your help and assistance.

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So most likely we will be canceling the cruise and hopefully will get the credit to use for a future cruise. I may be the only one that did not realize when the effective date of the policy is but in the event I am not passing on the information.

 

I think a lot of people are confused on this. When someone says they pay for insurance upfront, everyone asks why. This is why!

 

Honestly - with your Mom's age, I would only buy 3rd party insurance. Princess's insurance only covers $10K and $20K. This is nothing in today's world. It is not cheap but it is better to get good coverage.

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I would like to offer my experience from my husband heart attack on board our last cruise and what I did to better assist me in keeping track of all the information etc that I became overwhelmed with. I set up folders for the different Medical expenses, correspondences, copies of individual Dr's bills etc plus our Insurance Company payouts, so any future calls from the different companies, I could pull out and refer to. I noted the times, date and person I spoke with. I had never been put in this situation before so a fast learning experience for me. We all hope a loved one doesn't have a medical emergency during our cruise, but being prepared in the event it happens is very important along with having excellent Insurance to help us out when it does happen.

 

Gay

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Thank you all for the information on the medical facility, much, much appreciated. Yes, this is a Panama Canal cruise and yes the issue is gall stones. If it was like her prior situation she would not require surgery but would require fluids, pain medication, and antibiotics.

 

I have looked into regular travel insurance and Med-Vac Assist but the cost is very high because of her age. That is main reason we chose the Princess Insurance because it is the same cost no matter the age. Of course that was prior to her gall bladder attack and even if she wanted to consider it now it likely would be considered a pre-existing condition and not cover her anyway.

 

Her GI Doctor has said there are no easy answers. He said she may never have another attack or she could have one tomorrow. He also encouraged us to go on the cruise so we are now leaning in that direction.

 

Again thanks for all of the information - while much of it backs up what I think I already knew it does confirm some of the information and I learned a few new things.

 

Jill

 

I don't understand why when she had the attack they didn't remove her gallbladder and be done with it. Even if it was inflamed and needed antibiotics to calm it down for a few days, gallbladder surgery is a day surgery which means it's done in the morning and you go home that night. Eating rich cruise ship food would not be a bet I would want to take. If she has another attack on the ship she would most likely have to be evacuated because although they could treat her pain, they could not be sure she didn't have a common bile duct stone which could be more serious and require a special scope procedure which I am sure they don't do onboard. Just my 2 cents!

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I asked about surgery on board and the Doctor said they could do simple stuff. Of course I had to ask what simple meant and she laughed and said sutures, removal of foreign bodies and non compound fractures. She said appendix and gall bladders were out and they made arrangements to move those patients to a land based hospital.

 

Had a lady who got off a Princess ship that returned one Saturday from an Alaskan cruise in Seattle about 4-5 years ago and was walking very slowly toward a bus in the bus lot. To make a long story short, she told me that they had done an emergency appendectomy on her on the cruise. I guess that for one reason or another they were unable to get her off the ship and had to do it on board. I figured she must have known whether they operated on her or not. Like many things, sometimes emergencies call for changes in normal procedures! But I can understand why they wouldn't want to do them under normal conditions!!

 

 

Tom

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For the person that was asking about costs -

Costs vary but we paid between $100-$210 for our 4 visits on 4 different cruises for 4 different reasons. Last one was in 2012 so I'm sure they've gone up since then. None of them were that serious - just tests, an immunization and medications. Worth every penny.

For the person that was asking about hospital care in Mexico & Costa Rica - I only have experience in Mexico. That's where I sustained a head injury and we refused treatment there despite the fact that I almost lost consciousness. I preferred to be treated on the ship by a doctor who was up to US standards in a setting I was more familiar with near my comfy cabin.

Costa Rica is supposedly a great place to be in hospital from what I hear - clean, cheap, well-trained doctors with well-equipped facilities.

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Unfortunately I had to use the Regal's medical Center a few days ago. They have beds with the equipment to monitor vitals, an x-ray machine and well stocked pharmacy. They may have more but that's all I saw first hand.

 

 

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Took the ultimate ship tour and got to see the rest. The Regal also has an intensive care room, plenty of equipment for cardic issues, and orthopedic supplies to handle anything that breaks. They also have confined space rescue gear should the crew get into trouble.

 

They have plenty off stuff to keep a patient stable until you get to a port with better services but I'm not sure what a gallstone attack would require.

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Not to be noisy - but 'approximately' how much did that visit cost including x-ray and med, etc - and obviously you can ignore - but it might help the forum posters to get an idea of the cost as compared to on land:cool:

 

I had to have the Regal open up the Medical Center after hours, take an x-ray, and monitor me for about 4 hours while their pain meds took effect. Total cost including a follow-up appointment the next day was must less than I expected, $1720.46.

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OK, strap in for a bumpy ride. There is nothing in writing on this matter. First is the doctor: great,OK, so-so, retired from practice, can't get work in the U.S., or unable to work in U.S. but can on foreign flagged ship?

Sunburn, sprained ankle or broken finger no problem. However, if you present yourself with something serious, the "doctor" makes decision if you could POSSIBLY turn sour mid ocean and could require the ship to return port. Any question in doctors mind and your off the ship.

Story from these boards, couple on Mexican cruise, he has cardiac history. On port day he has tightness in chest and stops by medical. Zero tests performed by doctor, but within two hours security packed pax cabin and escorted them off the ship. Husband put in taxi and sent to nearest hospital while wife stood on dock amid luggage watching ship leave. Bottom line, nothing was wrong the husband and they had to arrange their own way home after paying for hospital

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I did the UST on the CB last year. First stop was the sick bay where we met the MD on duty (one of 2 on ship) the RN and others. They showed us the 3 fully equipped ER rooms. So imagine what one can get in an ER which does not include surgery of course.

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OK, strap in for a bumpy ride. There is nothing in writing on this matter. First is the doctor: great,OK, so-so, retired from practice, can't get work in the U.S., or unable to work in U.S. but can on foreign flagged ship

 

Why does the doctor have to be from the US.

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Just off the Golden today.

 

We had to go to the MC and were advised that the X-ray equipment was out of service.

 

So just cos they say they have it ...............

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OK, strap in for a bumpy ride. There is nothing in writing on this matter. First is the doctor: great,OK, so-so, retired from practice, can't get work in the U.S., or unable to work in U.S. but can on foreign flagged ship

 

Why does the doctor have to be from the US.

 

You do NOT want a doctor from the USA. Back in the days when ships staffed their medical centers with an endless rotation of short-term vacationing medical personnel in exchange for several free cabins for their families, my mother (office manager of a surgical practice) was acquainted with both a physician and a RN who did so regularly. There were very far removed from caring for casualty/trauma patients and really didn't care how unprepared they were for actual emergencies, complaining endlessly each time they returned home. If you would have presented with nothing more than a case of noisy gastritis you would likely be medically disembarked rather than just told to take an antacid and eat lighter--that's how little they wished to deal with patients.

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You do NOT want a doctor from the USA. Back in the days when ships staffed their medical centers with an endless rotation of short-term vacationing medical personnel in exchange for several free cabins for their families, my mother (office manager of a surgical practice) was acquainted with both a physician and a RN who did so regularly. There were very far removed from caring for casualty/trauma patients and really didn't care how unprepared they were for actual emergencies, complaining endlessly each time they returned home. If you would have presented with nothing more than a case of noisy gastritis you would likely be medically disembarked rather than just told to take an antacid and eat lighter--that's how little they wished to deal with patients.

 

There are bad apples in every group. I suspect that such medical personnel are the very small minority in any country and would seriously doubt that they are representative of any medical personnel found on any cruise ship (or anywhere else for that matter) regardless of nationality. Extension of your rationale would preclude treatment by any US medical personnel anywhere!

 

 

Tom

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I don't understand why when she had the attack they didn't remove her gallbladder and be done with it. Even if it was inflamed and needed antibiotics to calm it down for a few days, gallbladder surgery is a day surgery which means it's done in the morning and you go home that night. Eating rich cruise ship food would not be a bet I would want to take. If she has another attack on the ship she would most likely have to be evacuated because although they could treat her pain, they could not be sure she didn't have a common bile duct stone which could be more serious and require a special scope procedure which I am sure they don't do onboard. Just my 2 cents!

 

From what I read, it's her age. At some point, what would be simple and routine for younger people becomes much more risky. Just the anesthesia can be a problem.

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