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Widow sues medical doctor and training company

Discussion in 'Scuba Related Court Cases' started by DandyDon, Jun 23, 2016.

  1. DandyDon

    DandyDon Old men ought to be explorers ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: One kilometer high on the Texas High Plains
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  2. JohnN

    JohnN Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Oar--eee---gun
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    arcticat99 and Shotmaster like this.
  3. undrwater

    undrwater Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Cerritos, CA
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    That's the whole point of a suit isn't it? To determine and enforce responsibility?
     
  4. Stoo

    Stoo NAUI Instructor

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Freelton & Tobermory, Ontario, Canada
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    Geez, I can't agree with you John, although I completely agree with your sentiment.

    As a new student, Burns would have no way of knowing that his medical conditions were not compatible with diving. The Instructor and the shop followed the correct protocol and required that he have a Physician complete a medical assessment prior to Burns entering the course. The problem is, IMHO, that the Doctor apparently knew little or nothing about diving. He signed off on Burns, so Burns would have believed he was medically fit to dive.

    Burns was failed again when he returned to the shop and they accepted him into the class. Any OW cerified diver knows that asthma and diving don't go together. The shop should have sat Burns down and explained to him that should be suffer an asthma attack at depth, he would likely embolize and die on assent. Presumably, he would have decided to take up golf at that point.

    So the Doctor failed Burns because he signed off on his patients suitability for diving, something he knew nothing about. He should have referred his patient to a Physician who knew diving, or simply said, "I can't help you."

    As well, the shop, and the Instructor failed him because they should have explained to Burns that he could easily perish in pursuit of a frivolous pastime.

    I think Burns did everything that an "uninformed consumer" could do, and these other parties failed him.

    If I was on the jury, I would certainly find the suit has merit and award his family a good chunk of cash.
     
  5. Sevenrider860

    Sevenrider860 Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Newnan, GA
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    I disagree. There are different types of asthma. There are many divers who report asthma and are safely diving when asymptomatic. To make a blanket statement that any OW certified diver knows that asthma and diving don't go together is an uninformed opinion and not in agreement with the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society. I am sure there are certain forms of asthma that exclude diving as an activity, but not all. The shop is not in a position to make that determination.
     
  6. Stoo

    Stoo NAUI Instructor

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Freelton & Tobermory, Ontario, Canada
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    Fair enough, but as a minimum, they should have explained the potential risk to him. I have known all sorts of divers that got certified with a questionable health issue, including asthma. Shops and Instructors can look at a signed medical as a sort of a "get out of jail free card", and I suppose that it might be just that in many cases. Dive Instructors aren't Doctors, so reasonably they could argue that the Doc said it was ok, and who are they to argue with him/her?

    When I was actively teaching, I had the names of four Doctors in my area that were also, as a minimum, certified divers and I would recommend the student with the questionable medical go see one of them, rather than their own Doctor, assuming he/she didn't necessarily know about diving.

    However, this was back in the day of OW I classes that were 8 weeks long so the student had perhaps 3 weeks before they got onto SCUBA, and many weeks or months before they were ready to go into real water. This was lots of time to make an appointment to see one of these Doctors.

    I wonder if this guy did the e-learning modules, then showed up at the shop ready to start diving?
     
  7. JohnN

    JohnN Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Oar--eee---gun
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    Sorry Stoo,

    Dentists consider themselves Medical Professionals. He knew he had chronic emphysema, was subject to asthma attacks and had high blood pressure. He should have self-disqualified. Period.

    We don't know if the examining Dr. knew the patient, but if diving medical releases were only to be signed by doctors who understood the parameters of diving medicine, and given the overly broad (IMHO) criteria that PADI requires to be signed off, almost no-one would be able to start scuba instruction. (plus, I've yet to find a PCP that dives, let alone dives in the cold, dark PNW waters). Certainly the dive instructor and shop owner had less medical training than the dentist. Stoo, your signature says you're an instructor, do you believe you know more about medicine than a dentist?
     
    Boatswain2PA and ScubaDocER like this.
  8. Stoo

    Stoo NAUI Instructor

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Freelton & Tobermory, Ontario, Canada
    2,442
    1,806
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    Again I have to disagree. He was a dentist and undoubtedly knew lots about asthma. But he probably new very little about diving.

    As for me, more correctly I am a retired Instructor with about 25 years teaching experience and several years working as a volunteer at a hyperbaric chamber where I was involved in regular training dives and several treatment runs.

    So yes, as far as many of the medical aspects specific to diving go, I may well know more about how certain medical conditions may effect someone's ability to dive safely than a Dentist or even a Physician who has no interest in diving. In fact I had a Doctor for years who freely admitted that he knew nothing about diving. I had several conversations about how certain conditions would be problematic in diving... Everything from a chest cold to sinusitis to broken legs. His subset of patients that dove was extremely small I suspect

    Diving medicine is constantly evolving and things that were taboo 40 years ago are not now... I was properly corrected on my using broad statement about asthma up above. When I started diving, asthma was a definite no go. Same with diabetes. And I now dive regularly with three friends who are diabetic and are serious cave/mix/deep divers. They are.also extraordinary carefully about monitoring their blood sugar and I've seen one blow off a dive (after paying for hotel and diving) as recently as May 1 for that very reason.
     
  9. rjack321

    rjack321 Captain

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Port Orchard, WA
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    The Dr who signed this guy off to dive failed him big time. The instructor and shop staff who saw him using a rescue inhaler and continued to dive with him failed too. He also should have self selected himself out of diving based on his own answers and 2 minutes worth of googling the consequences. Which one is most responsible? I'm gonna say the Dr who signed off his medical without any apparent knowledge of diving medicine.
     
  10. Shotmaster

    Shotmaster Barracuda

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Melbourne, Fl
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    It sounds like the victim already had one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel to me. You don't get emphysema and an enlarged heart overnight. From a lay person stand point, this guy was on his way to checking out and had no business doing anything strenuous. I guess this is a case in point of trying to be too inclusive. The fact of the matter is diving is an inherently dangerous undertaking and has very real risks. Things don't always go as planned. Nature throws us curves, equipment can fail, and having physical limitations due to poor health, disability, or weak physical condition reduces your chances of survival. I'm old school, and I think some people just don't belong in the water at depth. They can become a liability to themselves and to others. This case falls in with some of the other threads on the board which question the changes from some of the old hardcore standards used by some agencies to the kinder and gentler view that anyone can learn to dive. This guy wouldn't have lasted five minutes at my first pool session. Doing push-ups with your tank and weight belt has been criticized as being extreme, it is if you are selling training to 65 year old grandmas, it is not if you are evaluating fitness and health for safe divers. Don't tell me standards haven't changed.
     

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