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Title: Medical conditions in scuba diving fatality victims in Australia, 2001 to 2013.
Austin Authors: Lippmann, John;Taylor, David McD 
Affiliation: Department of Medicine, Austin Health, The University of Melbourne, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia
Department of Emergency Medicine, Austin Health, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia
Australasian Diving Safety Foundation, Canterbury, Victoria, Australia
Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Victoria, Australia
Issue Date: 30-Jun-2020
Publication information: Diving and hyperbaric medicine 2020; 50(2): 98-104
Abstract: This study identified pre-existing medical conditions among scuba diving fatalities in Australia from 2001 to 2013, inclusive, and assessed whether these conditions likely contributed to the deaths. The National Coronial Information System (NCIS) was searched for scuba diving-related cases during 2001-2013, inclusive. Coronial findings, witness and police reports, medical histories, and autopsy and toxicology reports were scrutinised for pre-existing medical conditions and autopsy findings. Predisposing factors, triggers, disabling agents, disabling injuries and causes of death were analysed using a validated template. There were 126 scuba diving-related fatalities identified during the study period. Forty-six (37%) divers were identified as having a significant medical condition which may have contributed to their incident. The most common condition was ischaemic heart disease (IHD) which had been diagnosed in 15 of the divers. Thirty-two (25%) deaths were attributed to cardiac disabling injuries (DI) such as ischaemic heart disease and arrhythmias, although a cardiac DI was thought likely in another six. Respiratory conditions were implicated in eight (6%) deaths, at least four associated with cerebral arterial gas embolism. At least 14 (11%) divers who had contributory pre-existing medical conditions had been cleared to dive by a medical practitioner within the year prior. Chronic health-related factors played a major role in almost half of these deaths; primarily cardiac conditions such as IHD and cardiac arrhythmias. Although fitness-to-dive (FTD) assessments have limitations, the high incidence of cardiac-related deaths indicates a need for 'older' divers to be medically assessed for FTD.
DOI: 10.28920/dhm50.2.98-104
ORCID: 0000-0002-8986-9997
Journal: Diving and hyperbaric medicine
PubMed URL: 32557410
ISSN: 1833-3516
Type: Journal Article
Subjects: Autopsy
Diving deaths
Fitness to dive
Medical conditions and problems
Appears in Collections:Journal articles

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