The popular Ship Captain’s Medical Guide’ is intended primarily for use on ships where no doctor is carried and it is necessary to assess, treat injuries and to diagnose and treat ill health. The guide can also be recommended for use in other situations where professional medical advice is not readily available, for example on expeditions. The Guide’s structured approach ‘gives the non-medical professional clear guidance on recognising serious clinical situations’.
‘A structured approach gives the non-medical professional clear guidance on recognising serious clinical situations (using “red flags”), the required immediate actions, and when to call for advice,’ the authors note.
This medical guide is recommended as part of the Category 1 Marine First Aid Kit (Australian Sailing) SPECIAL REGULATIONS EQUIPMENT requirement,
For the 23rd edition the guide has been comprehensively rewritten reflecting modern best practices.
Flow charts to aid evaluation and treatment
Clear, authoritative advice and easy-to-follow guidance
Step-by-step illustrations to explain emergency procedures
Quick-reference lists regarding history and examination
Cross references to further detail
Authors : Spike Briggs (author), Tim Carter (author), Katharine Hartington (author)
Published : 2019 Maritime and Coastguard Agency (Great Britain)
Since its first edition – which ran to just over 90 pages and included advice on such things as scurvy, fish-poisoning, ague, arsenic and ‘excessive drunkenness’ – the Guide has undergone regular updates to keep pace with the latest medical best practice, as well as developments in the understanding of disease, new medicines and treatments, and access to radio-medical advice.
The new book is described as a complete rewrite from the previous edition, which was published in 1999. The revolution in global communications over the past 20 years has driven some sweeping changes in the contents of the Guide.
‘Telemedical advice is usually available almost instantaneously, from anywhere in the world,’ say the Guide’s authors, intensive care consultant Dr Spike Briggs, former Maritime & Coastguard Agency chief medical adviser Dr Tim Carter, and Colonel Dr Katharine Hartington of the Royal Army Medical Corps.
‘Images and medical test results can be sent to shore-based medical advisors with minimal delay,’ they point out. ‘Video consultations are routine ashore, and part of mainstream medicine. While not routinely available at sea, where available, the ability for the doctor to see and talk to the casualty in real time essentially improves understanding of the clinical situation, and thus better informs the decision process.’
The new edition also mirrors recent advances in medical technology. ‘The capability for “point-of-care” testing has essentially changed how medicine is practised, from the bedside in the most technical intensive care unit to the remotest place on earth,’ the authors note.
‘Vital signs can be measured with remarkable accuracy, and tests and examinations performed on a casualty to a level previously not possible. All this objective clinical information better guides the process of making diagnoses, and thus formulating more effective treatments.’
Another key element has been the advanced life support and advanced trauma life support emergency treatment algorithms developed in the 1980s and 1990s. These introduced a structured way of delivering care in emergency clinical situations, and the concept has been extended to many other areas of emergency medical and trauma conditions, as well as more routine medical conditions.
Don’t go offshore without this vital component of your medical kit.