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Feature Article

Diving fitness: what GPs need to know

Robyn Walker AM

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Abstract

Recreational scuba diving is a fast growing leisure sport, and many patients require their doctors to be capable of giving an opinion about their medical fitness to dive. It is essential that the examiner have an understanding of the hyperbaric environment. This article discusses diving fitness and the current regulatory framework in Australia.

Key Points

  • Follow the medical guidelines for scuba diving contained within either the Australian Standard or the SPUMS diving medical examination pro-forma.
  • Consider whether the diver has a condition or disease that affects his or her in-water safety, or the safety of companion divers.
  • Physical fitness does not infer fitness for scuba diving.
  • Divers over the age of 40 should undergo regular review, and consideration should be given to conducting a maximal exercise test.
  • Provide clear and rational explanations to a prospective diver who is being declared unfit to dive – to discourage the candidate presenting to another medical practitioner and failing to disclose his or her condition.

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