Maritime medicine

The German flag is setting top standards in maritime medicine

Just imagine, you have broken your arm and have to wait for more than one week to be treated by a doctor. Ashore this is hardly imaginable, but at sea it may become reality.

Shore based medical care is only available within a distance of about 150 nautical miles off the coast. This corresponds to the usual operating range of rescue helicopters. Ship’s doctors are practically only carried on passenger ships. On cargo ships it is usually the second mate who is in charge of medical care. In Germany these deck officers have received a four-week medical training at their nautical college. The medical equipment on board must therefore be adapted to handling by non-professionals.

There are few internationally binding requirements concerning maritime medicine. It is therefore of particular relevance that the German flag ensures top standard medical care:

  • the standard of medical equipment on board of German-flagged seagoing ships is based on practical experience and requirements.the telemedical consultation service is providing support and assistance in all medical emergencies on board of ships since 1932.
  • the four-week medical training of deck officers at nautical colleges is kept up to date with refresher courses every five years.
  • a compact and well-organized manual for medical care on board is provided with the "Maritime Medical Handbook“.
  • medical fitness for sea examinations are carried out only by specially trained physicians.
  • The Maritime Medical Service (Seeärztlicher Dienst) of the BG-Verkehr, in its capacity as the federal maritime medical institution, is dealing with all practical questions of principle.

Find information about the various tasks of the Maritime Medical Service here.