Background: The objective was to register and analyze data from all passenger injuries reported to the medical centre of a cruise ship with a median passenger load of 719 per day during a three-year period, and to determine high risk areas, equipment, and behaviour.
Methods: All reported passenger injuries were registered at first visit. An injury was 'serious' if it led to hospitalization ashore or if full recovery was not expected within two weeks.
Results: During 3 years, 663 injuries (62.7% women) were reported aboard; 12.5% were classified as serious. The victims' median age was 72 (range: 1-97) years. The incidence rate was 0.8 injuries per 1000 passenger-days. Most victims (65.3%) suffered injuries aboard, 3.6% on tenders, and 31.1% ashore. The most common accident locations aboard were cabins (20.1%) and bathrooms (13.4), and ashore, streets (29.6%) and buses (16.1%). Slips/trips/falls caused 44.8% of injuries aboard and 69.4% ashore (p < 0.001). The most frequently injured body part was the lower extremity (43.0%), and open wounds the most common injury type (41.6%). More wounds and fractures/dislocations occurred ashore than aboard (p < 0.05). Only 2% were hospitalized in port, while 5% were referred to specialists in local ports and returned to the ship. There were no helicopter evacuations or ship diversions.
Conclusions: Passenger injuries contribute considerably to the workload of the medical team aboard. A well-equipped, competent medical staff will effectively treat most injuries aboard and thus reduce the number of costly and inconvenient helicopter evacuations, ship diversions, port referrals, and medical disembarkations.