Coast Guard Warns Medical Evacuations May Be Denied


The United States Coast Guard has warned cruise operators that medical evacuations are placing stress on local medical resources and may no longer be possible in Florida, according to a recent bulletin. 

The Coast Guard also said vessels should consider keeping persons aboard and treating them there instead. The Coast Guard went on to say that foreign-flagged vessels, and those registered in the Bahamas, should seek flag state support. 

"Medical facilities in the Port of Miami, for example, are no longer accepting MEDEVAC patients due to limited hospital capacity and it is expected that neighboring counties will follow suit," the Coast Guard said. 

"The demand for medical services across the Seventh District AOR is leading to the establishment of improvised field hospitals, whose capacities for dealing with critical patients is unproven at this time. It must be considered that a potential evacuee has better access to comfortable surroundings and medical staff onboard the foreign passenger vessel where care is already being provided. To ensure the safety of persons onboard and mitigate the potential of overwhelming local medical resources," the statement said. 

"This is necessary as shore-side medical facilities may reach full capacity and lose the ability to accept and effectively treat additional critically-ill patients."

"Foreign flagged vessels that loiter beyond U.S. territorial seas, particularly those registered to The Bahamas, that require a MEDEVAC to a shoreside facility should should seek flag state support prior to seeking support from the limited facilities in the U.S."

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