Dr Jules Eden, dive medicine specialist and founder of e-med, answers divers' questions - as published in Sport Diver magazine:
Q - My 13 year old daughter and I are certified divers (she is a certified junior diver) with SSI. We hope to dive the Whitsunday's in October with H2O Sportz out of Hamilton Island, Queensland. We were both certified in October 2004 in Canada and have approximately 5 logged dives each since certification. We are Canadian citizens living in ACT Australia on a long term visa.
Please advise as to what medicals we would require for diving and of who should perform the medicals in the ACT Australia.
A - You threw me with SSI for a minute. I thought it was an illness, but looked it up and found 10 different acronyms. The best has to be Society of Scribes and Illuminators. Those mad old monks of the middle ages drawing bibles. Very “Name of the Rose” indeed.
Well for a medical in Oz, you need to go to the SPUMS website. Now there is only one of those, so no error can be made at all.
However if you are both perfectly fit, you should be able to self certificate.
Q - Dear Sir or Madam
I am shortly going to NSW Australia (21st December) and whilst there I will
be undertaking a PADI open water dive course. I have not dived before
(excepting snorkel) or taken any other diving course so I will need a
medical, preferably before I leave the UK.
My doctor does not carry out dive medicals of the level required by the
Pro-Dive organisation, with whom I am completing the course, that I have
downloaded from their web site.
What medical would I need and could you let me know where I might be able to
get such a medical done and also how much this medical would cost. I do have
the option of having the medical carried out in Australia but that would
hold me up for about an extra week.
A - I’ll put the frock on and Madam will do. And what syntax and grammar, someone bought you a Lynn Truss for Xmas. Better than any diver mail ever on the gerund/preposition front. Nice.
For the Pro Dive posse in NSW and even Queensland you need the Aussie medical. AS4005.1 it is called, and a thorough work up it is. We charge 60 to 80 quid depending on how you are medically.
Call e-med for an appointment.
Q - Hi I don't know if you can help me, I have tried to see my own GP about signing my PADI dive medical statement, however they want to charge me £75.00! I have been diving for 2 yrs now and have never needed one, but I am going to Malta in 3 weeks and was trying to get this done before I go out there as I didn't want to waste any time on my holiday. I know that I don't need a medical in any way shape or form as I am basically fit and well and don't suffer from any of the conditions listed (lucky me) and feel that £75.00 is too much just to look at my medical records. If I came to see one of your doctors which medical would I need, or do you recommend that I just have it done in Malta?
A - Ah, the great Maltese conundrum. Whether to spend your first day on holiday rushing around the back streets of a strange town trying to find the local approved doctor, or biting the bullet with your NHS GP. The first will save you £65 as they charge about a tenner over there, the latter will make you angry as your GP whizzes past you in town in his new Merc payed for with your hard earned money.
I suggest this. If you don't mind having a mad morning in Malta, then go for the cheap medical. They do what it says on the form, and not less than your GP will do. The only risk you have is that they may flunk you for some weird reason then you are stuck there with only a snorkel for fun.
If your GP has diving medical experience then you are better off getting it before you go. But I agree, £75 is too much for a 5 minute medical.
But the Blairesque Third Way is probably the best. Go to your local dive doctor. They know what they are doing, have diving experience and generally charge a lot less. £40 is the average for a quick "well person fit-to-dive Maltese medical". It's the same for the Spanish ones too.
So how do you find your local dive doctor?
Simply go to the www.e-med.co.uk dive medical pages and there's a full UK list of local doctors.
Q - The Egyptian Government have made yearly dive medicals compulsory for all divers. Do I need to come in to see a Doctor for one of these or can they be done via the Internet?
A - I read the same story as well, but as I sit and write these very words in Dahab, and am surrounded by Instructors, and have just asked them, they are all looking confused.
"Not hear about that one, mate" says Dougie from Poseidon.
"Oh, I read that on the Web, bollocks, they cant enforce it" Sam from the same place.
So the jury is still out on that. It's not quite Malta/Gozo yet, but you can see their point. Things have gotten tougher out in Egypt, with check dives, and Instructor medicals too, so with the potential loss of revenue if unfit divers were carking it left right and centre, these things will come soon I am sure.
If they do, then we have to do it properly, so it will mean a face to face consult, rather than an e-med style online consult.
Q - I wonder if you could clarify something for me?
I have had conflicting information regarding the requirements for diving in Queensland.
As four Advanced Open Water divers travelling to Australia in four weeks to do some casual day diving as well as an eight day live aboard.
Can you let me know whether we need any medical examinations etc. before we travel?
Many thanks in advance for your advice.
A - The easiest thing to do is to email the operator of your live aboard. They should know all the latest local rules. If not email one of the dive shops that you will be diving with in Queensland. Local rules change sometimes quicker than news gets over here.
But my understanding is that if you can merrily tick NO to all the medical questions on the PADI form, then you can all self cert locally and be fine to dive. Any ticked YES e.g. asthma or odd medication, then you will need to be signed off before you go, or get it done there before you dive. It's a form called the AS4005.1, and is the standard Oz medical form.
Q - I'm going to Australia on Sunday, I do not have a medical certificate asyet, but I would like to dive for the first time out there. I have just been advised that I should try to get a medical certificate before I go. I saw my GP earlier and he recalls completing a form for a patient but knew no more than that. Can you help? I had intended to get my medical cert out there presuming it would be the simplest way of obtaining one, but now I've been advised differently and have little time left to sort this out.
A - If you go through the PADI fit to five form, there a bunch of YES/NO medical questions on the form. If you answer NO throughout then when you get to Oz there should be no problem in self certificating as fit to dive.
However any YES answers then you could be in trouble.
So download one of these forms from the PADI.com site and take a look.
You could get the medical done in Oz but they can be overly tough on things like asthma, in which case it would be wise to get the medical done in the UK to save you any problems out there.
The form is called the AS4005.1 and any dive doctor should be able to access it. A normal GP probably will not though, so use the e-med dive doctor finder to find your local specialist.
Q - I am a PADI qualified Open Water Diver.
My age is 60 and I am under medication for hypertension, which is stable at 130/80.
I need to renew my medical certificate for diving now which was issued in Gozo and allowed me to dive to 20m. maximum.
Would you please advise what options I have to enable me to do this.
A - Good old Gozo and Malta.
They led the world in getting the annual dive medical check before you can sample the joys of a precipitous shore entry.
Your options are to get the medical out there. Or get it done here first which is acceptable in those islands.
Controlled hypertension is not a problem with normal diving. However some of the meds you may take to control this problem can be. I have written the most comprehensive piece on diving and high BP and stuck it under "longer articles" on this site (click here), so have a read there for the big info.
For now, if your BP is that good then get signed off by your GP. They may charge £60 to £100, in Gozo it may be cheaper.
I think a 20metre max is a tad harsh, if all is well there should be no depth limits at all.
Gozo does demand a medical done within the last 12 months by the way, old ones could be valid so check the dates.
Finally a little tip for the island. Get thick soled dive boots, if you shore entry it can be a bit of a walk, on sharp volcanic rock. The site's sights are awesome though.