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Published on 06/02/2017

What are the cost implications of misdiagnosing critical illness on board?

A crew member falling ill on board is always a cause for concern. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, there are a growing number of crew members that suffer from chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma or heart disease. Although most of the time these issues can be managed effectively, there may be occasions when their health starts to deteriorate rapidly. Illness may also occur due to infection, or simply be down to bad luck. As both serious and more trivial conditions may both start with similar symptoms, without expert intervention, differentiating between a serious and trivial medical situation can be a challenge without access to an appropriate medical expert. Get it wrong and the consequences can be severe.


Unfortunately, the cost implications of misdiagnosing critical illness on board a ship go far beyond the human misery it causes. Not only will there be the cost of needing to make a sudden, urgent diversion to shore once it becomes evident that the situation is dire, there’s also the cost of the emergency healthcare to be considered, as well as the potential legal costs should a delay in receiving essential treatment result in lasting damage or worse. Estimates suggest that just the cost of diverting a ship can amount to around $180,000 (about £147,456). Medical costs can also be significant, particularly if an emergency diversion means treatment is carried out at a facility not covered by existing insurance.


Legal costs and potential damages are some of the heaviest financial burdens that a misdiagnosis can bring. Whilst insurance may cover some of the cost, if it’s proven that there was negligence in securing appropriate treatment, insurance may be rendered invalid. Not only could a company face criminal proceedings for being in breach of the law with regard to appropriate healthcare provision on board, there may also be significant damages to pay through a personal injury compensation claim launched by the affected crew member. In some cases, the costs can run into millions of pounds.

Why risk the financial and human costs that misdiagnosis is likely to bring?. Telemedicine can help. Monitoring the vital signs of an ill crew member using straight-forward sensor equipment, telemedicine equipment provides the data that a land-based medical professional needs to give an accurate diagnosis, enabling you to take the best action every time.

To find out more on how iVital telemedicine can help you save money and keep your crew members safe get in touch with us by email or phone.