The IMCA International Code of Practice for Offshore Diving (IMCA D 014) requires divers to have valid certificates of medical fitness to dive issued by suitable doctors, for which an annual medical is required. This is an essential requirement - even a minor illness, such as the common cold or a dental problem, can have serious effects on a diver under pressure, let alone more serious health problems.
Such a medical should look at the diver's overall fitness for purpose. It includes the main systems of the body - cardio-vascular, respiratory and central nervous systems - the ears, nose and throat, capacity for exercise, vision and dentition.
The importance of a full medical being carried out by a doctor who is not only fully qualified as a medical practitioner, but who also has a sound knowledge of diving medicine, hyperbaric physiology and of the scope, nature and organisation of commercial offshore diving work cannot be understated.
In the absence of a suitable international approval scheme (although recognising and deferring as required to certain national systems), diving contractors need to identify suitable doctors to undertake medicals of their personnel and whose medical certificates they will recognise for new personnel. IMCA has provided its members with guidance (set out in information note IMCA D 20/01) on identifying appropriate doctors, based on their qualifications and experience, equipment needs and key elements in the diver medical examination itself.
A number of initiatives have seen diving contractors in particular regions agree to mutually recognise certain doctors for such purposes and IMCA has publicised such agreements on its members' behalf via information notes as set out below.
However, there are no 'IMCA-recognised' or 'IMCA-approved' doctors. Doctors must not use the IMCA name or logo in any stamp, certificate or other material in this regard.
Diver Medicals di Manos Kouvakis
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