Wednesday, January 18, 2012

So Just How Dangerous are Cruise Ships?

As the world continues to watch a large cruise ship submerged off the coast of Italy, everyone watching this must have wondered what it would have been like if they found themselves in that scenario. Those who are averse to cruises found an additional reason never to go on a cruise, despite the fact that cars are a far more dangerous method of transportation, at least in terms of crash rates. Although sinking ships are rare, more common is the risk of contacting an infectious disease due to being in close quarters for extended periods with many strangers. However, another risk factor that does not get much attention is the risk of injury from falling in cruise ships.

A few years ago, researchers the University of San Diego studied this topic more closely and found that about two patients a year fell on major cruise ships from 2002 to 2005 and that the rate rose to 8 in 2006. All but one patient was female. Three of the eight patients had other significant medical problems. All eight of these patients were injured from falls, five of which happened in stairwells. The most common injury was concussion (mild traumatic brain injury). Five patients were discharged home, two needed care in extended rehabilitation facilities, and another died. In the case series studied by the authors, falls were the sole cause of major injury among cruise ship passengers. So while you can be pretty confident that if you go on a cruise that it will not sink, take common sense safety precautions to avoid falls of cruise ships.

Am J Prev Med. 2007 Sep;33(3):219-21.
Significant injury in cruise ship passengers a case series.
Bansal V, Fortlage D, Lee JG, Hill LL, Potenza B, Coimbra R.

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