Norwegian Escape Cruise Passenger Airlifted After Possible Stroke

cruise ship rescue

According to the Coast Guard website, the Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod aircrew medevaced a 78-year-old man Saturday (Sept. 22) from the cruise ship Norwegian Escape after he suffered a possible stroke 40 nautical miles south of Nantucket.

The crew of the Norwegian Cruise Ship notified Coast Guard watchstanders of the man’s condition at approximately 5 p.m.

An Air Station Cape Cod MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew arrived on scene and hoisted the man and a nurse from the ship at approximately 7:30 p.m. and transported them to Rhode Island Hospital.

The passenger was reported to be stable at the time of the transfer.

What’s the cost of having a stroke?

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), here are some interesting stats:

  • Stroke kills about 140,000 Americans each year—that’s 1 out of every 20 deaths.1
  • Someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. Every 4 minutes, someone dies of stroke.2
  • Every year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke. About 610,000 of these are first or new strokes.2
  • Stroke costs the United States an estimated $34 billion each year.2 This total includes the cost of health care services, medicines to treat stroke, and missed days of work.
  • Stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability.2 Stroke reduces mobility in more than half of stroke survivors age 65 and over.2

Having a cruise ship – or having a medical issue characterized as ‘stroke like’ – is serious. When stroke symptoms appear in a cruise ship passenger, it’s imperative to remove the passenger from the ship as quickly as possibly. Also according to the CDC website, “Patients who arrive at the emergency room within 3 hours of their first symptoms often have less disability 3 months after a stroke than those who received delayed care.”

Care, treatment and rehabilitation costs can easily creep over $100,000. The impact of the stroke may decrease mobility, proper brain functioning and overall quality of life. in their article, Cruise Ship Doctors and Medical Facilities Onboard, says:

“If a life-threatening injury or illness, such as a serious fall or heart attack, occurs, cruise ship doctors are unlikely to fully treat a patient onboard, choosing instead to send the passenger to a land-based medical facility. Make sure you have up-to-date insurance and any contact information for your carrier and primary care physician available, in case you’re faced with an emergency.

Cruise line policies outline conditions under which passengers should be medically disembarked. The ship’s medical staff has the right to determine whether a passenger is unfit to continue on a sailing. Cruisers will be disembarked if they are in a condition “likely to endanger health or safety,” according to MSC Cruises’ conditions of travel, for example. Cruise doctors can make arrangements to have passengers transferred to a health facility at any port, at the passengers’ expense.

In dire cases, a patient might need urgent care that can’t be administered onboard. Sometimes the only option is to evacuate a passenger by helicopter for transportation to a shoreside medical facility. (This is often carried out by the Coast Guard in the U.S. and sometimes a foreign military when you’re overseas.) Evacuation by air is typically reserved for only the most critical cases because the procedure can put the patient under added physical and emotional stress. The medevac units are staffed by medics who are expertly trained in emergency treatment.”

For cruise ship medical personnel – and for the person who has suffered the stroke – it’s extremely important that the doctors and medical staff are able to recognize the symptoms of stroke quickly and also quickly make the appropriate decisions. A doctor’s failure to diagnose or provide immediate treatment can provide the basis for imposing liability on both the doctor and cruise line in question.

In an opinion published Nov. 10, 2014 in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, cruise lines can now be held vicariously liable when the negligence of the ship’s doctors, nurses and other medical staff, causes harm to their passengers. Read more here.