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Journal Article


Bilir NA, Scheit L, Dirksen-Fischer M, Terschüren C, Herold R, Harth V, Oldenburg M. BMC Public Health 2023; 23(1): e963.


(Copyright © 2023, Holtzbrinck Springer Nature Publishing Group - BMC)






BACKGROUND: For seafarers on the high seas health hazards are various and due to the setting also specific. The spectrum of job-related health impairments and accidents is mainly influenced by the maritime characteristics. The aim of this study is to assess the kind of accidents and the frequency of diseases and health complaints among seafarers on German container ships by evaluating medical log books.

METHODS: A systematic analysis of 14,628 medical entries from 95 medical log books of 58 container ships under German flag from 1995 to 2015 was performed. This monocentric retrospective and descriptive study used information on accidents, diseases and health complaints among different occupational groups and medical treatment procedures for the analysis and evaluation.

RESULTS: The analysis showed that more than one third of all consultations with the Health Officer on board are related to internal (33.7%) and surgical (31.3%) symptoms. Almost twenty percent of consultations were due to respiratory infections (19.6%) and accidents (17.9%). Accidents represented the most frequent reason for unfitness for sea service (31.2%). Based on occupational categories, most injuries occurred among deck crew (22.5%), followed by ratings working in the engine room (18.9%). In 106 cases, telemedical contact with a physician ashore was necessary. In total, 15 seafarers had to be evacuated from the ship for further medical treatment onshore. Medicine/drug application was the most common therapeutic measure on board, accounting for 77% of all consultations.

CONCLUSIONS: The high proportion of health complaints and accidents among seafarers shows that there is a need to optimize medical care at sea and accident prevention, e.g. by standardized treatment algorithms or improving the medical training of Health Officers. The development and introduction of a digital patient file to record medical treatments on the vessels could also improve medical documentation on board.

Language: en


Accidents; Container ships; Diseases; Health complaints; Seafarers


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