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January 2017    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 43, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Hyperbaric Help Might Not Be Close At Hand in Florida

from the January, 2017 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

If you get bent in Florida, getting to a chamber is no easy matter. Many Florida hospitals have gradually stopped offering 24-hour emergency use of their hyperbaric chambers, requiring injured divers to travel farther and farther for treatment, says John Peters, head of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society in North Palm Beach.

As a result of a survey, UHMS found only 12 percent of hospitals with hyperbaric facilities in the U.S. offer a 24-hour service, down from around 90 percent in the early '90s.

Believing the trend to be driven by hospital economics, Peters has said, "For example, we've lost Panama City, Tallahassee, and Jacksonville. The closest suitable Florida hospital to Tampa is at West Palm Beach."

Recently a Florida diver died, likely because he couldn't get to a chamber in time. He was taken to Springhill Medical Center in Mobile, Alabama, where their hyperbaric unit treats around a dozen or so divers each year, the majority from Northwest Florida. Julio Garcia, director of the Center, who has long feared a tragedy such as this, is reported saying, "We worry about the time to treatment. Currently, our average time to treatment from injury is anywhere from six to nine hours. That's incredibly long and can result in an unfortunate situation."

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