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Is there usually a doctor on a ship?

On Behalf of | May 2, 2022 | Maritime Law

Injuries on a ship are particularly problematic because they could happen when the ship is very far from shore. Someone who needs immediate care at a hospital may have absolutely no way to get it. If they’d been injured at home and they could have been at the nearest medical center in 10 minutes, it’s a very different story than if they suffer the exact same injury and they are hours or days from the nearest port. 

As a result, you may assume that there would usually be a doctor on the ship so that someone could at least render professional aid to the injured party. But is this going to be true?

It depends on what type of ship you are on

There may be, but it all depends on what type of vessel you’re on when the injury occurs. For instance, most merchant vessels do not have doctors. A cargo freighter isn’t going to have a designated doctor. Instead, members of the crew will learn first aid and know how to give some assistance. But the cargo vessel isn’t legally mandated to have an official doctor.

It’s often much different if you’re on something like a cruise ship or a research vessel. These ships are going to have doctors who can see you quickly. After all, many people on cruise ships suffered minor injuries all the time, with hundreds of people packed into a small space. But, should something more catastrophic happen, it also does help to have a doctor on board at the time.

Whether or not there is a doctor may significantly impact how severe your injuries are or what the ramifications are going to look like. Be sure you know what steps to take after an injury.