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Doctor won't sign medical release. What to do?

Discussion in 'Divers with Disabilities' started by AndrewST, Jul 12, 2009.

  1. AndrewST

    AndrewST Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Roseburg, OR
    My father is getting back into diving after 34 years, and things have changed, in the sport and for himself. Basically his situation is his entire spine is fused, he had a horrible dirt bike accident and a few other accidents that caused disk damage. After several surgeries he now has a fused spine...the whole thing.

    During his Cert course he wasn't able to complete the 200m swim, after his failed attempt, and injury to himself at this swim the instructor found out about his issue. He told my father to go see his Doctor and get the doctor to sign a medical release. With the release my father can skip the swim and continue on.

    PROBLEM: Doctor refused to sign the damn release! He told my father if he did he would be open to a lawsuit if something happen. Now this Doctor has been my family's Doctor for over 30 years! I think the man is nuts in his age, but that doesn't change the situation. My father even offered to sign a Liability Release for Doctor. Still No. I guess one solution would be find a new doctor, but anyone else run into this sort of deal, how did you handle it and get it resolved?
  2. RAWalker

    RAWalker Divemaster

    A second opinion is the only way to solve the issue but regardless of whether a doctor signs off or not... I know a lot of handicapped divers do enjoy this sport but I don't think that a waver should be allowed for a qualification as basic as the 200m swim. Just my opinion.
  3. TC

    TC Miscreant Moderator Staff Member

    You can get a second opinion but if he had difficulty as you stated with a normal Scuba course he might want to consider a handicapped scuba association course- they have several levels of certification based on the persons abilities.

    They can also help him with an honest assessment of his abilities so that he, and his future buddies, can have a better understanding of his abilities.

    HSA- Handicap Scuba Association
  4. vladimir

    vladimir Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Yeah, whenever a doctor gives me advice I don't want to hear, I find a new doctor. Who needs all this nonsense about losing weight and quitting smoking? Can you believe my last doctor wouldn't even come across with a lousy Hydrocodone prescription? He expected me to just suck it up and endure a skinned knee. :shakehead: I found the medical advice I needed though--my new doctor used to treat Michael Jackson--a true professional. :wink:

    Of course I'm kidding. TC gives good advice above, I think. Plenty of handicapped divers enjoy the sport, and an organization familiar with the issues handicapped diving entails is probably your best bet. I agree with RAWalker, not being able to complete a 200 meter swim is a serious obstacle, and I think the normal certification route is probably not appropriate for your father.
  5. TSandM

    TSandM Missed and loved by many. Rest in Peace

    Think about it . . . your dad can't handle a 200 yard swim. What happens when current blows him off the anchor line? What happens if he does a shore dive, and the wind is blowing when he comes up, and the swim back to shore is arduous?

    Scuba isn't just about the part underwater. Surface swimming, in heavy gear, is much harder than just swimming in a swimsuit. Getting in the water, when you know you can't swim very far on the surface, should be limited to extremely quiet and safe conditions. I think the doctor is right. Your dad might look into diving with the handicapped diver's association, and restrict his diving to very calm and forgiving sites.
  6. mts0628

    mts0628 Manta Ray

    Hi AndrewST:

    I certainly sympathize for your Father but since as the Physician who has said no to a waiver and who also has know you guys for a long time, I cannot help but think that he has your best interests in mind even though he mentioned the ultimate turn-off discussion of liability.

    Finding a new Physician may seem like a good idea initially but what of the rapport that you guys have built and all that your Physician already knows about you, do you just want to pull up stakes and have another 30 years of building?

    With all of this said, I believe that anything is possible for those who are truly determined. So while getting a new Physician is one way to tackle the problem, what about hitting the pool to improve the deficiencies that plague your Father's 200 metre swim? And please clarify, did you Father hurt himself while attempting the swim as well?

    And finally, I think the HDA is a great idea. Unfortunately because of world events, there are going to be more and more use of these type of organizations but the bright side, more exposure will hopefully bring better technology, methodologies, and techniques for those in need and open the world of scuba diving to even more people.

    Good luck to your Father and you.

    With kindest regards,
  7. Crowley

    Crowley Master Instructor

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Planet Crowley
    I agree 100% - AndrewST I understand you must be angry but consider - your father's spine is fused after what must have been a horrific spinal injury; not only could he not complete the swim (and I'm sorry, there should be no waivers for this at all) but he also injured himself doing it. And he wants to wear a heavy tank on his back with a bunch of lead thrown into the bargain?

    The doctor may well have saved your father's life. Potentially the lives of others if your father should get into difficulties as a result of his injury.

    Whilst he may not want to think of himself as disabled, the HDA, HSA and IAHD can all offer training tailored to suit the needs of the individual and they will be in a better place to offer assistance and advice than your LDS perhaps.

    Consider speaking to DAN and getting a full fitness to dive medical from a specialist diving doctor. He or she may well clear your father to dive, perhaps with certain restrictions in terms of depth and location or equipment and so on. Then again they might agree with the family doctor and refuse to clear him to dive.

    I hope that helps somewhat -

    Safe diving,

  8. Crowley

    Crowley Master Instructor

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Planet Crowley
    Also - it just occured to me - if he was on a cert course - how did he even get clearance to begin?

    The Recreational Scuba Training Council (RSTC) medical declaration is a pre-requisite for all PADI, SDI, SSI recreational courses and other agencies outside the RSTC have similar requirements. You must be medically cleared to dive prior to starting any in water training.

    The RSTC form quite clearly asks: (yes or no)
    - [Do you have a] history of recurrent back problems?
    - History of back surgery?
    - History of back ... problems following surgery, injury or fracture?
    - inability to perform moderate excercise

    Seems to me your father should have answered "yes" to one, more or all of these and therefore the instructor should have sent him to the doctor before commencing training. If your dad answered these questions with a "yes", you have a problem with your instructor. If your dad ignored these and wrote "no" then if I found out about the condition I would quite simply refuse to accept him for any training whatsoever. Dishonesty on the medical form has caused accidents in the past and somebody who ignores these issues does not deserve to be underwater.

    Also while I'm at it - certainly for PADI, there is no medical clearance which will allow a student to "skip" the 200m swim during an Open Water course. A student must complete ALL the requirements for the course to be certified. I suspect (but will have to check) that other agencies are the same.

    More than one problem to solve here, Watson...

  9. Diver0001

    Diver0001 Instructor, Scuba

    Is the problem with the swimming test that he has trouble swimming because of his back or because he simply can't swim?

    An instructor cannot skip the 200m swim in a normal scuba course. In the US, he can do a 300m snorkel instead of 200m of swimming so maybe that would be an option but he has to be able to do one of those or his instructor can't certify him.

    If the problem is his back then I would advise him to deeply consider what would happen to him if he *did* get in a situation while diving that required him to swim.

    And Crowley is right. This should have come up before he ever dipped a toe in the water.

  10. Walter

    Walter Instructor, Scuba

    Diving isn't for everyone.

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