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Press announcement

New Data from MedSea Reveals the Most Common Cause of a Medical Diversion at Sea

MedSea, an International SOS Company, has provided a two-year insight (2021/22) into their telemedical assistance service. The service provides dedicated 24/7/365 support to tens of thousands of seafarers onboard ships around the world.

MedSea advises on a variety of routine and emergency cases, covering any type of health issue that can arise onboard. Clients subscribed to the service have unlimited access to telemedical support and are encouraged to call MedSea as frequently as needed. By focusing on prevention and early intervention, the majority of MedSea’s cases (72%) are resolved onboard, avoiding the need for further shoreside follow up.

These new insights, presented at the 16th International Symposium for Maritime Health, delved into a variety of different data points including position onboard, diversions and medical case categories.

During the period examined, MedSea provided assistance to over 8,000 seafarers onboard 1,400+ vessels, globally. Of these cases, one in five were due to COVID, with many vessels having outbreaks of multiple infected crews. Other medical categories responsible for high case volumes were musculoskeletal (12.4%), dermatological (11.2%) and gastrointestinal (9.8%).

Injuries were responsible for the highest number of vessel diversions (24%), onshore medical reviews and repatriations. Of all the injury cases, hands remained by far the most frequently injured part of the body, accounting for nearly a third of injury cases.

Overall case categories trend similarly year-on-year, however as 2023 progresses, the proportion of dental cases is showing an increase compared to 2021/22, moving from the sixth most common case category to the second. This is likely due to the pent-up demand following the easing of COVID restrictions. The majority of these cases require onshore dental treatment whilst the seafarer is on contract at sea, which can sometimes have an operational impact.

Despite a growing awareness and focus on mental health in the industry the number of cases opened remained low. In addition, only one in five seafarers suffering from mental health concerns are opting to receive emotional support counselling. 

Dr Katherine Sinclaire, Senior Medical Advisor at MedSea comments
Ship owners, operators and managers should ensure a continued focus on health, safety and wellbeing and provide seafarers with the tools to sustain a healthy lifestyle, keep a positive outlook and avoid any preventable illness and injury onboard.
As a result of MedSea’s continued growth, a dedicated new Assistance Centre has just been launched in Manila, the Philippines. The Assistance Centre is staffed by close to 50 medical, operations and logistics professionals, providing enhanced support to our maritime clients and their seafaring staff. 

Future Care, an International SOS Company, are also strategically located alongside the MedSea team, allowing for increased knowledge sharing between teams. Together with maritime Assistance Centres in China and USA, shipowners and managers can ensure the highest possible standards of global care for their seafarers, 24/7/365.