An Updated Scuba Diver Medical is Released

New Medical Screening System

The old PADI Medical Statement is now being binned after 30 years or more of service to the dive community. A new medical screening system is available in an updated format which includes concerns of COVID-19. Diving Medicine and medical thinking have advanced over the years, so now the time has come for a new protocol.

Diver Medical Participant Questionaire;

This section has 10 questions and is completed by the diving candidate. Each answer requires a “yes” or a “no.” Unlike the old version, if you answer a question with a “yes” you will be guided to page two for further questioning. For example; the diver answers “yes” to question one “I have had problems with my lungs/breathing, heart, blood, or have been diagnosed with COVID-19.” If the diver answers “yes”, the diver is directed to Box A on page two, where five more detailed statements about health conditions. If the diver answers “yes” to any of these, the diver needs to get a physicians approval to dive.

Diver Medical Physician’s Evaluation Form;

This section is to be completed by the physician evaluating the diving candidate for diving suitability when a physician’s approval to dive is necessary.

A different approach;

The previous PADI (RSTC) Medical Statement consisted of 34 questions which are a lot to answer. An updated Medical Screening Questionaire has 10 basic questions on the first page. If the diver candidate answers all questions with “No”, that person is fit to dive. Should the diver candidate answers a question with a “Yes”, the diver is directed to the appropriate box for more questioning on page two. On page two, if the diver answers “No” to all the remaining questions in the appropriate box, then he or she is fit to dive. A diver answers “Yes” to one or more of the questions in the appropriate box, then that diver must go and see a physician for approval to dive before entering the water.

Greater precision;

This two-step approach allows greater precision in identifying who needs to see a physician. Form fatigue with the old medical is often a problem when reading and answering 34 questions. Often questions are read incorrectly and mistakes are made due to the length of the old form. The new form is much more user friendly and the questions are more refined.

Why was the new medical created?

The first Recreational Scuba Training Council (RSTC) diving medical screening system was published 30 years ago, back in 1989. Through the years, steps forward made in diving medicine and valuable gathered evidence calls now for a re-think of the diver medical screening process.

Why is there no question about pregnancy?

There is now this statement at the beginning of the medical: “If you are pregnant, or attempting to become pregnant, do NOT dive.”

Question Refinement;

Compare the old RSTC Medical with the new one and you will see subtle changes. This is designed to ensure that divers who are most at risk are quickly identified and sent to a physician. In the previous RSTC Medical Statement, the question asked if the diver had ever had “recurrent back problems.” At some point in almost everyone’s life, back problems become an issue. This issue is dealt with on the new medical screening by asking the diver “I have/have had recurrent back problems in the last 6 months that limit my everyday activity.” This helps resolve such problems and the diver when answering “No” to the question would not need to see a physician.

Why is there no place for the physician to add notes on the 2020 Diver Medical?

In the past, well-intentioned depth limitations and other comments such as “no Nitrox” were added to the medical. The medical community considers such conditional medicals as unacceptable, so the removal of the comments box would discourage any unwanted comments from a physician.

What about COVID-19?

The new medical includes a statement about being previously diagnosed as having COVID-19. If students or divers answer “yes”, then they need to be screened by a physician. The Diving Medical Guidance to the Physician contains extensive information about the disease and is linked to resources that will be updated as more becomes known about it. If your students do not know if they may have had the disease but are worried about it, you can still recommend that they consult with a physician who can refer to this information and give them appropriate advice.

Which bodies have endorsed this 2020 Diver Medical?

The new diver medical contains input and advice from some of the top diving medicine doctors around the globe. It has been three years in the making and includes thoughts and safeguards for freedivers as well. The new screening system reflects input from the Undersea & Hyperbaric Medical Society Diving Committee, the DMSC, Divers Alert Network and the Hyperbaric Medicine Division, Unversity of California, San Diego. It is endorsed by the UHMS and by WRSTC. So, as we read, some of the worlds top hyperbaric doctors became involved in this document to safeguard the diving community and those that want to join us in this fantastic and safe sport.

Safe diving to you all!