All about the dive medical examination & a visit to the dive doctor

Diving is a wonderful, but also demanding sport that can be both physically and mentally challenging. For this reason, it may be necessary for some divers to be examined (periodically) by a diving physician to minimize risks of underwater health problems.

The purpose of this article is to inform divers about all aspects surrounding the medical examination. When is it mandatory? How does a medical examination work? To these questions and more we try to answer.

Disclaimer: From EWDR we absolutely cannot answer medical questions, after all we are dive travel specialists and not doctors. We can only inform you where to go to get the right information.

What is a medical examination for divers?

A medical examination for divers is a health examination conducted to determine whether a person is physically and medically fit to dive. The purpose of the examination is to identify any health risks that could cause problems during diving, such as cardiovascular disease, lung problems or ear problems.

The examination is performed by doctors specializing in diving medicine. These doctors have the knowledge and experience to assess whether a person can dive safely and advise on any restrictions or precautions that should be taken. A thorough medical examination is essential to ensure the safety and well-being of divers.

When is a medical examination required?

If you take a diving course or dive at a dive shop, you must always fill out a dive medical form. This form contains several questions about your health. If you answer “Yes” to any of these questions, you need a medical examination. Don’t worry; this just means you need a doctor’s signature.

Click here to view the form.

If you have a medical indication, such as asthma, epilepsy, diabetes, then this will probably already come out of the medical questionnaire as well and a dive inspection is necessary. Can you answer “No” to all the questions, but still have doubts about something? Certainty above all else! Contact a diving medical examiner to discuss your doubts.

How to find a diving doctor in my area?

On the website of the NICDA you can view all affiliated diving doctors in the Netherlands & Belgium. There is a2nd website for the Netherlands, Duikkeuring.nl.

Why is a Medical Examination Important?

Diving poses health and safety risks such as decompression sickness, pulmonary overpressure, barotrauma, and drowning. Medical conditions can increase these risks. Therefore, a medical examination is sometimes crucial to prevent complications and to ensure that divers are physically able to dive safely.

Several studies and reports show that a significant percentage of diving accidents are due to underlying medical conditions that were not identified in a timely manner. According to a report by Divers Alert Network (DAN), medical problems are a major factor in about 25% of fatal diving accidents. A well-known case is that of a diver with undiagnosed heart problems who suffered a heart attack during a dive, which ended fatally. Another case involved a diver with untreated epilepsy who suffered a seizure during a dive, leading to drowning. These incidents further emphasize the importance of thorough medical examinations to prevent such tragedies.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do I always have to do an examination before diving?
No, this depends on whether you answer “Yes” to any of the questions on the medical form or whether you have a medical indication. There is one exception to this, for diving professionals and divers who want to take professional diving courses (starting at Dive Master) an inspection is always mandatory. In addition, there are also many divers who get inspected annually anyway, just to be on the safe side. We are also hearing more and more noises that various diving organizations are requiring their members to be inspected….

How do I prepare for a medical diving examination?
Prepare for a medical examination by gathering medical documents, filling out the medical form accurately, scheduling a convenient time, wearing comfortable clothes, eating lightly, hydrating well, preparing questions, and staying relaxed.

What is the cost of a medical diving examination?
The cost of a medical examination for divers varies depending on the location, the doctor and the scope of the examination. Generally, the cost is between €75 and €150. A comprehensive inspection can be more expensive, especially if additional tests are required. It is advisable to check with the doctor or examination center in advance to find out the specific costs and what they include. It is also advisable to take a look at your health insurance policy, as some things may be covered under additional insurance.

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