The Ship
. Captain's
MEDICAL
GUIDE
Published with the permission of the Maritime
and Coastguard Agency on behalf of the Controller
of Her Majesty's Stationery
© Crown Copyright
Office.
1999
All rights reserved.
Copyright in the typographical
arrangement
and design is vested in the Crown. Applications
for reproduction
should be made in writing to the
Copyright Unit, Her Majesty's Stationery Office,
St Clements House, 2-16 Colegate, Norwich NR3 1BQ.
Twenty-second
edition
first published
1998
ISBN 011 5516581
Cover: Top photograph
of fishing vessel supplied
courtesy of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation
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from:
Preface
1
Introduction: How to usethis guide
3
1
First aid
5
2
Toxic hazards of chemicals including poisoning
45
3
General nursing
51
4
Care of the injured
69
5
Causesand prevention of disease
85
6
Communicable diseases
95
6.1
Sexually transmitted diseases
117
7
Other diseasesand medical problems
127
8
Diseasesof fishermen
189
9
Female disorders and Pregnancy
193
10
Childbirth
197
11
Survivors
201
12
The dying and the dead
205
13
External assistance
209
Annexes
215
Annex I Anatomy and physiology
215
Annex II Anatomical Drawings
220
Index
227
iv
THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Contributors
Mr C J Cahill Consultant in Accident & Emergency Medicine
Mr GA Carrs Consultant in Accident & Emergency Medicine
Mr STH Mullett
Dr R Brindle
Consultant in Accident & Emergency Medicine
Consultant Medical Microbiologist
Dr J Kitching
Specialist Registrar in Accident & Emergency Medicine
Mr MA Howell
Dr K Hartington
Specialist Registrar in Accident & Emergency Medicine
Specialist Registrar in Accident & Emergency Medicine
Dr M Saunders Principal in General Practice
Mr A Dobson Accident & Emergency Clinical Nurse Manager
Miss D Rock Senior Sister in Accident & Emergency & Nurse Practitioner
Mrs P Hutchings
Community Psychiatric Nurse Manager (Deliberate Self Harm)
1
Preface
The Ship Captain's Medical Guide is primarily intended for use on ships not carrying a doctor.
The recommended measures of prevention and treatment are therefore confined to those
which can reasonably be expected of the ship's officers.
The First edition of the Guide was compiled in 1868 by Dr Harry Leach, Medical Officer of
Health of the Port of London. The Twentieth edition was published nearly 100 years later in
1967. The Twenty First edition was a major revision, first published in 1983, and reprinted no
fewer than seven times, with some amendments, between then and 1993. It stood the test of
time well but has inevitably become outdated in some aspects.
This, the Twenty Second edition, is a further major revision of the text aimed at bringing the
recommended actions and treatments in line with current medical practice and medical stores
regulations. Where necessary the text has been re-written and the information re-arranged to
improve accessibility. It is hoped that this revised text will prove 'user friendly' and will become,
like its predecessor, a trusted and long lived publication.
The Guide is designed to be used in conjunction with Merchant Shipping Notice MSN 1726
(M & F), or any subsequent update, which sets out the medical stores which are required under
the Merchant Shipping and Fishing Vessels (Medical Stores) Regulations 1995 SI No. 1802 (as
amended by 1996 SI No. 2821). It is recommended this Merchant Shipping Notice is kept with
the guide, in the pocket provided, for immediate reference.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) acknowledges the contributions of the working
group from the Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, Portsmouth, Hampshire.
Grateful acknowledgements are also due to Dr PAM Diamond, Dr DB Carron and Mr DC Cahill
for invaluable additional advice.
~
Time, medical science and technology will not stand still after the publication of this
Twenty Second edition. As updating is required, it is hoped to be able to incorporate
amendments to reflect advances and changes in medical knowledge and practice, and to
improve the guide. To this end the MCA would welcome suggestions for improvements or
changes at any time. These should be sent to: Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Bay 2/1,
Spring Place, 105 Commercial Road, Southampton, S015 1EG.
3
Introduction: How to use this guide
The three functions of this Guide are:
• to enable you to diagnose and treat injured and sick seafarers;
•
to serve as a text book for Medical First Aid and Proficiency in Medical Care courses; and
•
to help you give some training to your crew.
The Guide should be kept in the ship's medical cabinet.
All members of your crew should be encouraged to learn the immediate life-saving measures
described in the first part of Chapter 1.
Casualties
The first aid treatment for casualties is given in Chapter 1 or, in the case of toxic hazards,
Chapter 2 and the Medical First Aid Guide for Use in Accidents involving Dangerous Goods
(MFAG) 1994 and subsequent amendments. Chapter 4 describes how to give any necessary
further treatment for wounds and other injuries following first aid and removal to the ship's
hospital or a cabin.
Illnesses
When a person falls sick the first step is diagnosis. Some diseases anct,medical problems are
relatively easy to diagnose, others may be much more difficult.
Diagnosis of the common diseases need not be difficult if you are met~odical
and make
plenty of legible notes. One approach is to use a check list based on the form~t recommended
for requesting Radio Medical Assistance. The listwill both serve as a guideline for diagnosis and
be useful if you have to request Radio Medical Advice or to send the patient to a hospital
ashore.
Ask the patient when he first felt ill and what he feels is wrong with him. Obtain the full
history of the complaint and also ask about his past medical history including drug treatment
and allergies. Always listen carefully to everything the sick person has to say, and to his (and
others') recollections of recent relevant events, e.g. has he been drinking, has he eaten
something which has disagreed with him?
Note his general appearance, (is he flushed, pale, sweating, anxious, etc.?) Depending on the
complaint, getthe patient to remove his clothing and examine him thoroughly. Look for rashes,
bad breath, tender areas, etc. Take his temperature, pulse rate and respiration rate and
examine his urine, faeces, sputum and other discharges when necessary.
You should now have in front of you a list of symptoms, your findings and the patient's
temperature, pulse and respiration rates. Reference should then be made where appropriate to
the following sections:
•
Probable causes of abdominal pain - chart
•
Probable causes of chest pain - chart
•
Diagnostic signs associated with unconsciousness - chart
•
Descriptions of diseases in Chapters 6, 7, 8 and 9
Consider this example of how a diagnosis is established. The patient complains that he has had
abdominal pain for a few hours. This started around the navel but has now settled in the right
lower quarter of the abdomen. He has felt sick and has now begun to vomit. He has vomited on
two occasions.
You find out by questioning him that the pain at first was spasmodic but, since it passed
downwards into the lower abdomen, it has become a steady but not severe pain. He has not
had diarrhoea, but is rather constipated. Examination shows that he has a temperature of
37.4°C, his pulse is 86 per minute, his tongue is furred and his breath is foul. There is tenderness
in the right side of the lower abdomen, maximal at a point about half way between the navel
and the upper bony part of the pelvis. There is no protein in the urine.
To establish a diagnosis, turn to the index and consult the section on the abdominal system.
Compare the symptoms and signs with your findings.
4
THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
The diagnosis in the example above should be one of acute appendicitis. If the patient is female,
think also of ruptured ectopic pregnancy and of salpingitis. Check as part of your history-taking
when her last menstrual period occurred. Then read the relevant section. You should be able to
exclude these problems. Should you not be able to exclude a right sided salpingitis, then do not
be concerned, as the treatment suggested for appendicitis would be effective in salpingitis as
well.
A simpler method of establishing the diagnosis may be to study the diagrams and the table
on the probable causes of abdominal pain in the abdominal pain chart. There you will see that
the pattern of pain in Diagram 5 follows that which you have obtained in your history-taking
and that the symptoms and signs which you have recorded confirm that the diagnosis is one of
appendicitis.
A similar method should be used in all casesof illness. Chest pains can be diagnosed from the
chest pain chart.
When you have made your initial diagnosis, follow the treatment recommended for that
particular illness. Carefully monitor and record the patient's progress. If other symptoms arise,
check again to see whether your initial diagnosis was correct. If you are unsure of the diagnosis
and the patient does not appear to be very ill, treat the symptoms only, (e.g. paracetamol for
pain or fever) and allow the patient to rest in bed. See how the illness progresses. If the
symptoms disappear you are on safe ground. If they do not you will normally find that by the
second or third day of the illness, the symptoms and signs are sufficient to allow you to make a
diagnosis. If the patient's condition worsens and you are still unable to make a diagnosis, seek
RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
General advice on nursing the patient wnile he has to remain in bed will be found in Chapter 3.
Advice on precautions to be taken in giving antibiotics, pain-killers and all medicines and
information about their side-effects are given in the drug supplement. Finally, if you have tQ,
obtain radio medical advice or evacuate the patient, you should read Chapter 13. In seeking
advice from a radio doctor it may help to refer also to Annex I which describes briefly how the
body works and gives the names of the main bones, muscles, etc. and the position of the main
organs.
The dying and the dead
Chapter 12 tells you how to care for patients who may be dying, how to decide if a patient is
dead, 3nd what to do if he does die.
Causes and prevention of disease and medical problems
Prevention is always better than cure. Every master should therefore take heed of the advice in
Chapter 5 about such matters as the cleanliness of the ship, ensuring that the food and water
can be safely consumed, and isolating a patient who has an infectious disease.
Medical stores
Merchant Shipping Notice MSN 1726 (M & F)(or any subsequent update) sets out the statutorily
required medical stores, according to the category of vessel.TheGuide is intended for use with
these medicines and equipment, and regular checks on stocks of medicines and their expiry
dates should be carried out.
Introduction
When a ship is in port, or near to port where hospital and
other expert medical attention are available, the first aid
treatment necessary aboard ship is similar to that practised
ashore. At sea, in the absence ofthese facilities, trained ships'
officers are required to give types of treatment beyond that
accepted as normal first aid.
The content of this chapter covers the knowledge of first
aid necessaryfor the safe and efficient immediate treatment
of casualties before they are transported to the ship's
hospital or to a cabin for any necessary definitive treatment
of the type described in Chapter 4.
However, anyone aboard ship may find a casualty and
every seaman should know three basic life-saving actions to
be given immediately while waiting for trained help to
arrive. These are:
•
to give artificial respiration by the mouth to nose/mouth
method;
•
to place an unconscious casualty in the unconscious
position;
•
to stop severe bleeding.
Priorities
On finding a casualty:
•
ensure your own safety;
if necessary, remove the casualty from danger or danger
from the casualty (but see the note below on enclosed
spaces);
• give immediate treatment to th'e casualty who is not
breathing and/or whose heart has stopped, is bleeding
severely or unconscious - others can be treated later;
• send for help.
If there is more than one unconscious or bleeding casualty:
• send for help;
• treat the most serious injury first in the order of:
• not breathing and/or heart stopped;
• unconsciousness.
• serious bleeding;
Ifthe casualty is in an ENCLOSEDSPACE:
• DO NOT enter the enclosed space unless you are a trained
member of a rescue team acting under instructions;
• send for help and inform the master.
It must be assumed that the atmosphere in the space is
hostile. The rescue team MUST NOT enter unless wearing
breathing apparatus which must also be fitted to the casualty
as soon as possible. The casualty must be removed quickly to
the nearest safe adjacent area outside the enclosed space
unless his injuries and the likely time of evacuation makes
some treatment essential before movement.
Introduction
Priorities
General principles of first
aid
General assessment of
the situation
Dressings, bandages,
slings and splints
First aid satchels and
boxes
Severe bleeding
Unconscious casualty
Burns and scalds
Suffocation (asphyxia)
Str:angulation
Choking
Epilepti~ fits
Shock
Bleeding
Wounds
Fractures
Dislocations
Head injuries
Chest injuries
Blast injuries
Transportation
6
THE SHIP CAPTAIN'S MEDICAL GUIDE
General principles of first aid on board ship
The general principles are:
•
make a rapid examination
injury;
of the patient to assessresponsiveness and the extent of the
• check breathing, heart and look for serious bleeding;
• if breathing has stopped, give artificial respiration;
• if the heart has stopped, give heart compression and artificial respiration;
• arrest serious bleeding;
•
handle the patient as little and as gently as possible so as to:
• prevent further injuries; and
• prevent further shock;
•
see that the patient is put in the most comfortable
clothing so that he can breathe easily;
position possible and loosen tight
•
do not remove more clothing than is necessary and, when you do, remove it gently. With an
injured limb, get the sound limb out of the clothing first and then peel the clothes off the
injured limb, which should be supported by another person during the process. If cutting
clothes is indicated to expose the injured part, do so. In removing a boot or shoe remove the
lace and, if necessary, cut the upper down towards the toecap; keep onlookers away.
•
always remember that shock can be a great danger to life and one of the main objects of
first aid is to prevent this;
• you may have to improvise splints, bandages"etc. (Figure 1.23);
•
do not give alcohol in any form;
•
do not move the patient until he is fit to be moved. Bleeding should be arrested, fractures
immobilised and shock treated. Seethat the necessary personnel and equipment for
smooth and efficient transport are available;
•
never consider anyone to be dead until you and others agree that:
• breathing has stopped;
• no pulse is felt and no sounds are heard when the examiner's ear is put to the chest;
• the eyes are glazed and pupils are dilated;
• there is a progressive cooling of the body.
(For a further description of the diagnosis of death Chapter 12).
General assessment of the situation
Once it has been established that there is no immediate threat to life there will be time to take
stock of the situation. Reassurance and quick and effective attention to injuries and
compassionate treatment of the injured person will alleviate his condition. Remember:
•
a calm and systematic approach should be adopted;
•
give nothing by mouth;
•
protect the casualty from heat or cold, remembering that in the tropics open steel decks can
be very hot;
•
never underestimate
and do not treat as minor injuries:
• unconsciousness
• suspected internal bleeding
• stab or puncture wounds
• wounds near joints (see fractures);
• possible fractures
• eye injuries
Chapter 1 FIRSTAID
A standard dressing consists of a thick pad of gauze which is attached to a bandage, leaving
about 30cm of tail. The dressing is packed in a paper cover and is sterile. Therefore, when the
package is opened, it is important that the gauze pad should not be allowed to touch anything
(including your fingers) before it is applied to the wound.
Standard dressings are available in three sizes:
Small Gauze pad measures 7.5 cm by 10 cm.
Medium
Gauze pad measures 10 cm by 15 cm.
Large Gauze pad measures 15 cm by 20 cm.
Always select a dressing with a pad which is larger than the
wound which you have to cover up.
In use the pad is placed upon the wound, the tail is taken
round the limb and held, the bandage is held taut as it is
taken round the affected part so as to 'lock' the tail in
position. The bandaging can then be continued to hold the
dressing firmly in place by making turns above and below
the pad so that they overlap it (Figure 1.1).
Bandages
~
Bandages are required to apply and maintain pressure on a wound to stop bleeding, to keep a
dressing in place, to provide support, and to prevent movement. Wherever a.standard dressing is
not used it is customary to cover a wound in the following ways:
•
dry dressing - sterile gauze or lint covered by a layer of cotton wool and held in place by a
roller or triangular bandage;
•
non-stick dressing - sterile paraffin gauze covered by sterile gauze or lint and cotton wool
and held in place as above.
NOTE: Never use cotton wool as the first layer of a dressing. When using lint always put the
smooth surface next to the skin.
>4
Tube gauze finger bandage
Cut off a piece of tube gauze bandage
60 cm long. Lay this on a flat surface and
make a longitudinal
cut at one end
10 cm long through both thicknesses of
the bandage (Figure 1.2). The tails so
formed, '8', will be used to secure the
bandage.
Insert the
applicator
into
the
bandage at end 'B', then push all the
bandage on to it. Then pull 2.5 cm of
the bandage off the end of the
applicator (Figure 1.3). Tuck this inside.
Hold the finger dressing in place.
Insert the finger into the applicator and
push it gently towards the base of the
finger. Hold the bandage in place with
your
thumb
and
withdraw
the
applicator with a slightturning motion.
The bandage will slip off the applicator
and will mould firmly to the finger
(Figure 1.4).
7
When the applicator comes off the finger, hold the bandage and the applicator firmly and
turn through 360 degrees (Figure 1.5).
Re-insert the tip of the finger into the applicator and push it once again to the base of the
finger (Figure 1.6).
Repeat the complete manoeuvre until the bandage is all used up. Then tie loosely at the base
of the finger (Figure 1.7). Tape the base of the dressing avoiding encircling the finger.
Triangular bandage
This is the most useful bandage in first aid. It can be used as a broad or narrow fold bandage to
hold dressings in place. It can also be used for immobilising limbs or as a sling. It is made from
calico or similar material by cutting diagonally across a square of material having 1 metre sides.
The ends should always be tied with a reef knot.
Figure 1.8 Broad and narrow fold bandages.
Broad and narrow fold bandages
Figure 1.8 shows how to make a broad and a narrow fold bandage.
The main ways in which a triangular bandage can be used, either as a temporary dressing or
to secure or cover a proper dressing, are as follows:
Hand bandage
See Figure 1.9
Wrist and palm bandage
Place palm on the middle of a narrow fold bandage. Take the ends and cross the bandage at the
back of the hand, leaving out the thumb. Take turns of the bandage round and round the wrist
and tie off at the back (Figure 1.10).
Chapter 1 FIRSTAID
(a) Place the hand on the
bandage.
Bring down point '('
over the back of the hand to the
wrist
(b) Turn 'f:\ over the back of the
hand, under 'B' and half around
the wrist.
(c) Turn 'B' over the back of the
hand, over 'f:\ and half around
the wrist.
(d) Take turns with'
f:\ and 'B'
round the wrist and tie off.
Figure 1.9 Hand bandage
Elbow bandage
Fold over the base of the bandage and place the back of the
elbow in the middle of the bandage so that the point lies at the
back of the upper arm. Take the ends of the bandage round the
forearm, cross them in the bend of the elbow, and then take
them round the upper arm - to make a 'figure of eight'. Tie off
at the back of the arm about 10 cm above the elbow. Fold down
the point and fix it with a safety pin (Figure 1.11).
Shoulder bandage
Stand facing the casualty's injured side. Place the centre of an
open bandage on his shoulder with the point running up the
side of the neck (Figure 1.12a). Fold a hem inwards along the
base, carry the ends round the middle of the arm, cross and tie
them on the outer side (Figure 1.12b). This will secure the lower
border of the bandage. Apply an arm sling. Turn the point of the
shoulder bandage already applied down over the knot of the
arm sling. Pull it tight and pin it in place (Figure 1.12c).
9
10
THE SHIP CAPTAIN'S MEDICAL GUIDE
Crutch bandage
Tie a narrow fold bandage round the waist; at
the middle of the back pass another one
under it and allow ends to hang down at the
same level. Grasp both these ends and bring
them forward under the crutch. Passone end
under the waist bandage in front and tie off
(Figure 1.13).
Hip bandage
Tie a narrow fold bandage round the waist
with the knot on injured side. Passthe point
of another bandage up under the knot, turn a
fold at the base of the bandage and bring the
ends round the thigh to tie off on the outer
side. Pull the point up to remove creasesand
then fold it down over the knot and fix with
safety pin (Figure 1.14).
Knee bandage
Placethe point of the bandage in the fron,t of
the middle ofthe thigh, turn a fold at the base
of the bandage so that it isabout 10 cm below
the kneecap. Take the ends round the back of"
the joint in a figure-of-eight and tie off in
front well above the kneecap. Fold the point
down over the knot and fix with safety pin
(Figure 1.15).
Foot bandage
Lay the foot flat on the bandage. Bring point
'A: up 6ver the foot in front ofthe ankle. Take
'B' over the foot and behind the ankle. Do the
same with 'C'. Knot.in front of the ankle
(Figure 1.16).
Eye bandage
Placethe middle of a narrow fold bandage diagonally across
the affected eye so as to cover the dressing. Take both ends
round the head, cross them at the back and bring them
forward again. Tie off over the forehead but not over the
eye (Figure 1.17).
Head and scalp bandage
Figure 1.18 is self-explanatory. It is important that the
bandage is placed just abovethe eyebrows. The tails 'B' and
'(' should be taken well under the occiput (the bump on the
back of the head where the neck joins the head), and pulled
fairly tight before taking them round to the front to be tied
off. Failure to do this will result in the bandage falling off, if
the patient should bend over (Figure 1.18).
Ring pad
Spread all the fingers of one hand to form a rough circle of
the required size. Make two turns of a narrow fold bandage
round the ends of the fingers. Twist the remainder of the
bandage round the circle so formed to make a grommet
(Figure 1.19).
To pass a narrow-fold bandage under the legs or body
when the casualty cannot be movedObtain a long piece of wood or a splint. Lay the narrow
fold bandage on a flat surface. Placethe splint on top of
it. Then fold about 22 cm of the bandage back over the
splint. Holding the splint and tl'ie bandage firmly, gently
push the whole under the patient where it is required
and carryon pushing until the end comes out on the
opposite side. Free the bandage and draw it through.
Withdraw the splint. Make the necessarytie.
12
THE SHIP CAPTAIN'S MEDICAL GUIDE
Slings
Slings are usually made from triangular bandages, or they can be improvised. The main ways in
which to make a sling are asfollows:
Large arm sling
Placethe triangular bandage on the chest, carrying the point behind the elbow of the injured
arm. One end isthen placed over the shoulder of the uninjured side and the other hangs down.
Gently settle the arm acrossthe bandage, turn up its lower end over the forearm and tie it over
the shoulder of the uninjured side so that it fully takes the weight of the forearm. Finally fold
the point over the elbow and pin it in place (Figure 1.20).
Collar and cuff sling
This is used to support the wrist. To apply a collar and cuff sling, bend the casualty's elbow to a
right angle. Passa clove hitch round his wrist. Move his forearm across his chest with his fingers
touching his opposite shoulder. Tie the ends of the bandage in the hollow just above the
collarbone (Figure 1.21).
Triangular sling
This keeps the hand well raised and, with a pad under the arm, is used to treat a fracture of the
collar bone (Figure 1.22). Place the casualty's forearm across his chest so that his fingers point
towards the shoulder and the centre of the palm rests on the br':!ast bone. Layan open bandage
on the forearm with one end (C)over the hand and the point well beyond the elbow (A). Steady
the limb and tuck the base of the bandage well under the hand and forearm so that the lower
end (B) may be brought under the bent elbow and then upwards across the back to the
uninjured shoulder, where it is tied to end (C) in the hollow above the collar bone. The point of
the bandage (A) isthen tucked well in, between the forearm and bandage in front, and the fold
thus formed isturned backwards over the lower part of the upper arm and pinned.
Improvised slings and supports
The affected hand or arm can be supported, when no sling is readily available, by simple
methods, some of which are illustrated in Figure 1.23.
Splints
Sets of splints of various lengths are included in ships' stores. When properly applied to a limp,
they relieve pain by immobilising the fracture and prevent further damage to the surrounding
muscles, blood vessels and nerves. The sharp ends of the bone are prevented from piercing the
skin and turning a closed fracture into an open fracture with its attendant dangers.
When choosing a splint it should be long enough almost to reach the joint below and the
joint above the site of the fracture. The only exception to this rule is the splint used in fractures
of the thigh bone. This should be long enough to stretch from the ankle to the armpit.
All splints must be fixed to the limb in at least four places - above and below the site of the
fracture and at both ends. Although wooden splints are generally used in first aid, substitutes
can be used in emergency situations. These can be in the form of suitably sized pieces of wood
or metal, folded cardboard, newspapers or magazines, or pieces of stick or broom handles
fastened together to give the necessary width.
Whatever is used, the splint must be padded so that there is a layer of soft material about
1'/2 cm thick between the splint and the skin. Unpadded splints will cause pain and possible
damage to the skin.
14
THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Inflatable splints are a useful method for temporarily immobilising limb fractures but are
unsuitable for fractures which are more than a short distance above the knee or elbow as they
cannot provide sufficient immobilisation in these places. The splint is applied to the limb and
inflated by mouth. Other methods of inflation can make the splint too tight and thus slow
down or stop the circulation. Inflatable splints can be applied over wound dressings.
The splints are made of clear plastic and any bleeding from a wound can easily be seen.
Needless to say, all sharp objects and sharp edges must be kept well clear of the plastic to avoid
a puncture.
Inflatable splints may be used to transport a patient about the ship or during moving to
hospital. They should not be left in place for more than a few hours. Other means of
immobilising the fracture should be used after that period.
Remember that the sound leg is a very good splint to which an injured leg can be secured
pending more elaborate measures, and, similarly, the arms can be immobilised against the
trunk. If the patient is to be moved by Neil Robertson stretcher, no additional splints may be
necessary during first aid.
First aid satchels or boxes
These should contain at least the items required by MSN 1726 for the 'first aid kit'. One should
be kept close to the ship's medical store for swift transfer to the site of an accident. If you have
more than one, the other(s) should be placed away from the medical store so that if the store is
destroyed by fire you have an easily reached first aid kit. These kits should be checked
frequently and re-stocked as required.
"
Severe bleeding
.
•
lay the casualty down;
•
press where the blood comes from, using a clean handkerchief,
•
press with your hand or fist on the wound if nothing else is available. If possible wear
disposable gloves.
•
if the arms or legs are wounded, lift them up to a near vertical position as this will help to
stOf>the bleeding (Figure 1.24);
dressing or cloth;
• tie a dressing firmly round the wound to maintain the pressure;
•
if blood continues to come through the dressing, apply another bandage on the top of the
first one. Bandage more firmly.
•
keep the injured part as still as possible and the casualty at rest because movement disturbs
(and destroys) the blood clot;
•
after bleeding has been controlled,
restthe limb as shown in Figure 1.24;
• this treatment applies equally to bleeding from an amputation
be applied over and around the end of the stump.
site. Here pressure should
Unconscious casualty
The immediate threat to life may be:
•
breathing obstructed by the tongue falling back and
blocking the throat;
•
stopped heart.
Check for breathing at once - Look/Listen/Feel
•
look for movements of the chest and abdomen;
• feel for air on your cheek
•
listen for breathing with your ear over the mouth and
nose (Figure 1.25);
•
note the colour of face and lips - normal or blue/grey
tinge?
If breathing:
• place the casualty in the unconscious or recovery
position (Figure 1.26);
NOTE: no pillows should be used under the head;
•
pull up the leg and the arm on the side to which
the head is facing, pull up the chin;
• stretch other arm out as pictured
For subsequent treatment
patient see Chapter 3.
of an unconscious
Not breathing:
• With the casualty lying flat on his back, open the airway
by making sure that the head i~ilted
back whilst lifting
the chin upwards and forwards (Figure 1.27), which will
move the tongue forward and clear the airway.
•
Open the mouth and mop out any obvious obstructions
such as blood, vomit or secretions. If dentures are worn
only remove them if they are broken or displaced. Use
your fingers, a handkerchief or a clean piece of cloth.
These actions may relieve the obstruction to breathing.
The casualty may gasp and start to breathe naturally. If so,
place in the unconscious position.
Still not breathing:
Begin artificial respiration at once - seconds count.
•
Open the airway by making sure that the head is tilted
back whilst lifting the chin upwards and forwards.
• work from the side in a convenient position;
•
pinch the casualty's nose with your index finger and
thumb. After taking a full breath, seal you lips about the
patient's mouth and blow into his mouth until you see
the chest rise. This should take about 2 seconds for full
inflation. (Figure 1.28)
•
give two effective inflations quickly, then note if the
colour of the face and lips is improving.
16
THE SHIP CAPTAIN'S MEDICAL GUIDE
If there is improvement:
• continue the artificial respiration, maintaining a rate of
about a dozen inflations each minute. It may help your
timing to count to five, slowly, between inflations;
• see section above on 'If breathing'.
If there is no improvement:
•
listen for heart sounds (Figure 1.29);
• feel the pulse at the neck (Figure 1.29);
If no heart beat is felt, the heart has stopped. A trained
first-aider must begin chest compression at once. Unless
circulation is restored, the brain will be without oxygen and
the person will be dead in four to six minutes:
• the casualty must be lying on his back on a hard surface,
e.g. deck, otherwise the compression will be lost;
•
place your hands together as shown in Figure 1.30;
•
press ('12 second duration, 100 times a minute) firmly and
rapidly on the middle of the lower half of the breast
bone sufficient to produce a downward mQvement of
about 4 cm (Figure 1.31);
•
artificial respiration (Figure 1.30) must also be !(jrried out
when giving heart compression since breathing stops when
the heart stops. It can be given by one person, alternately
compressing 15 times and then filling the lungs with air
twice or, ideally, by two people - one giving heart
compression and the other giving artificial respiration, at a
ratio of 5 chest compressions to 1 lung inflation;
•
if the heart starts to beat the colour of the face and lips
will improve and the eye pupils will get smaller;
•
listen again for heart sounds and feel for a neck pulse. If
they are heard, stop heart compression but continue with
artificial respiration until natural breathing is restored.
When you are satisfied that the heart is beating and
unassisted breathing is restored, transfer the casualty by
stretcher, in the unconscious position, to the ship's hospital
or a cabin for further treatment. See Chapter 3 for continued
nursing care.
Unfortunately these measures are not always successful.
Failure to restart the heart after cardiac arrest is common
even in the best environment, such as a fully equipped
hospital. It may be necessary to decide to stop artificial
respiration and chest compression. If in doubt SEEK RADIO
MEDICAL ADVICE.
Chapter 1 FIRSTAID
Burns and scalds
Clothing on fire
•
by far the best way to put out a fire on a person isto use a dry powder fire extinguisher at once;
•
if a dry powder extinguisher is not available, then lay the person down and smother the
flames by wrapping him in any available material (not made of man-made fibre), or throw
buckets of water over him, or use a hose;
•
make sure all smouldering clothing is extinguished.
NOTE: The powder from a fire extinguisher will not cause much, if any, eye damage. Most
people shut their eyes tightly if sprayed with powder. Any powder which gets in the eye should
be washed out immediately after the fire has been extinguished and while cooling is being
undertaken.
Heat burns and scalds
•
all heat burns should be cooled as quickly as possible with running cold water (sea or fresh)
for at least ten minutes, or by immersing in cold water and keeping the injured part in
motion; cooling of extensive burns (> 15%) should be avoided as hypothermia will result.
•
if it is not possible to cool the burn on the spot, the casualty should be taken to where
cooling can be carried out;
• try to remove clothing gently but do not tear off any which adheres to the skin;
• then cover the burned areas with a dry, non-fluffy, dressing which is larger than the burns
and bandage in place;
• further treatment
as in Chapter 4.
Electrical burns and electrocution
•
make sure you do not become the next casualty when approaching any person who is in
contact with electricity:
•
if possible, switch off the current';
•
otherwise, insulate yourself. Remove your watch and rings, wear rubber boots or stand on
an insulating mat, thick DRY newspaper or wood;
•
alternatively, pull the casualty from the source of supply with an insulated flex or push him
away with a strong non-conductor, such as a piece of DRY wood;
•
check immediately for breathing and heartbeat:
• if not breathing, give artificial respiration;
• if heart is stopped, give chest compression and artificial respiration;
• send for help;
• when the casualty is breathing, cool any burned areas and apply a clean, dry, non-fluffy
covering to the burned area.
Chemical splashes
•
remove contaminated
clothing. Drench with water to wash the chemical away;
• carryon washing for at least ten minutes. If you are in any doubt that the chemical has been
completely cleared from the skin, repeat the washing for a further ten minutes;
•
give priority to washing the eyes if affected, as they are particularlyvulnerable
to chemical
splashes. If only one eye is affected, incline the head to that side to prevent the chemical
from running across into the other eye.
17
18
THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Suffocation (Asphyxia)
Suffocation is usually caused by gases or smoke:
•
remember that dangerous gases may have no smell to warn you
of their presence;
•
do not enter enclosed spaces without the proper precautions;
•
do not forget the risks of fire and/or explosion when dealing
with inflammable gases or vapours;
•
get the casualty into the fresh air;
•
give artificial respiration ifnot breathing;
•
chest compression may be required if the heart stops;
• when breathing is restored, place in the unconscious
position;
•
oxygen may be administered later if carried on board.
Strangulation
•
Immediately remove the cause;
• treat as for suffocation above;
•
give protective supervision if there is any r.eason to
suspect that the injury was self-inflicted.
Choking
Choking is usually caused by a large lump of food which
sticks at the back of the throat and obstructs breathing. The
person then becomes unconscious very quickly and will die in
4 to 6 minutes unless the obstruction is removed.
Choking can be mistaken for a heart attack. A person who
is choking:
•
may have been seen to be eating;
•
cannot speak or breathe;
• will turn blue and lose consciousness quickly because of
lack of oxygen;
• can signal his distress (he cannot speak) by grasping his
neck between fingers and thumb. This is known as the
'Heimlich sign' and, if understood by all personnel,
should reduce the risks involved in choking (Figure 1.32).
Up to five firm slaps on the back, between the shoulder
blades, may dislodge the obstruction. If not:
If the casualty is conscious, stand behind him, place your
closed fist against the place in the upper abdomen where
the ribs divide and grasp your fist with the other hand.
Presssuddenly and sharply into the casualty's abdomen with
a hard quick upward thrust, five times if necessary.
If unsuccessful continue in cycles of five back blows to five
abdominal thrusts. (Figures 1.33 and 1.34).
If the casualty is unconscious, place him face upwards, keeping
the chin well up and the neck bent backwards. Kneel astride
him, place one hand over the other with the heel of the lower
hand at the place where the ribs divide. Presssuddenly and
sharply into the abdomen with a hard, quick upwards thrust.
Repeat several times if necessary (Figure 1.35). When the food
is dislodged remove it from the mouth and place the casualty
in the unconscious position.
Chapter 1 FIRSTAID
Epileptic fits - convulsions
The fit may vary from a momentary loss of consciousness (petit mal) in which the patient may
sway but does not actually fall, to a major attack (grand mal) as follows: the patient suddenly
loses consciousness and falls to the ground, possibly with a cry; he remains rigid for some
seconds, during which he stops breathing and the face becomes flushed; the convulsion then
starts with irregular, jerky movements of the limbs, rolling of the eyes, gnashing of the teeth,
with perhaps some frothing at the mouth. He may lose control and pass urine or faeces. After a
variable time, but usually in a few minutes, the convulsion ceasesand he falls into what appears
to be a deep sleep.
Treatment
•
prevent the patient from hurting himself in the convulsive stage;
•
never restrain him forcibly, as this may cause injury, but remove hard objects and surround
him by pillows, clothing or other soft material;
•
after the fit is over, check for injuries. Assuming the patient is uninjured, let him sleep it off.
He may be rather'confused and dazed when he comes round. Reassure him and do not
leave him until you are sure he is aware of his surroundings and knows what he is doing.
In the event of the patient having several fits, one after the other, it may be necessary to give
him an anti-epileptic drug such as Diazepam. SEEKURGENT RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
Shock and circulatory collapse
.
Shock occurs when the body's circulatory system is unable to distribute oxygen enriched blood
to all parts of the body. If untreated, the body's vital organs (brain, heart, lungs, kidneys) can
fail, leading to collapse, unconsciousness and eventually death.
Causes
The commonest cause is lossof body fluicUrom the circulation. It can result, either from external
or internal bleeding, (e.g. as occurs in fractures of the thigh), the formation of large blisters and
the weeping of fluid from large burns and from damaged blood vessels in crush injuries. Shock
can also be found in severe heart attacks, a~
in certain diseases characterised by excessive
vomiting and diarrhoea.
The first-aider should always be on the look-out for this condition as it can develop even
while the casualty is under close observation and it may be missed. Fear, pain and exposure to
cold make shock worse.
",
Symptoms and signs
The patient:
• will usually lie still, taking little notice of his surroundings
• will complain offeeling
faint, cold and thirsty. He may shiver;
•
his lips and the edges of the ears may be blue;
•
his skin will be pale, cold and clammy;
•
his pulse will be rapid and weak;
•
his respiration will be rapid and shallow and, as shock deepens, he will give frequent sighs;
•
he may start to vomit;
•
if untreated, he may lapse into unconsciousness and later die.
19
20
THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Treatment
The primary aim is to treat whatever condition is causing the shock;
•
lay the patient flat and, if injuries permit, elevate the feet and legs so that blood flows to
the heart and brain (see note below on exceptions to this rule);
• do not move him unless in a position of danger;
• stop any blood loss. Cover burns and scalds. Immobilise fractures.
•
loosen any tight clothing which restricts breathing movement;
•
keep warm but do not overheat.
• deal with any pain. Morphine may be given as necessary
• give small sips of water if there is no suspicion of abdominal injury but NEVERgive fluids to
an unconscious casualty. A badly burned or scalded person may require much more fluid;
•
move to a place of safety as gently as possible. Rough handling will increase the pain and
the shock.
Exceptions to the lay flat rule:
•
if there is an injury to the face, mouth or jaw with a lot of bleeding, place in the unconscious
position with the head turned with the damaged side underneath and, if possible, with a
head-down tilt. This will prevent blood running down into the throat and lungs;
•
if there is a penetrating
breathing;
•
if unconsciousness occurs, put into the unconsdouJ position with as little disturbance as
possible to the injured part.
wound of the chest; or if breathing is difficult,
prop up to assist
Bleeding
External bleeding
Bleeding from small blood vessels occurs when there is a minor cut or abrasion of the skin. Blood
oozes fro!)"].the wound; it usually stops by itself or when a dressing is applied. It is generally of
no consequence.
In large and deep wounds, the blood wells up in a steady stream. The volume of blood loss
depends on the number of blood vessels damaged and, although it may appear alarming, it is
not usually dangerous, unless allowed to continue.
When large arteries are damaged, bright red blood will spurt from the wound in time with
the heart beats. This bleeding is usually profuse and the patient's life will be endangered. This is
a rare situation.
In all casesof external bleeding, follow the three cardinal rules:
•
lay the patient down;
•
lift up the affected part if possible;
•
press firmly where the blood comes from. Use a dressing or a clearlcloth or handkerchief
but, if none should be available, use the bare hand or fingers. When possible disposable
gloves should be worn to protect yourself.
This procedure will stop the flow of blood.
When bleeding has been controlled, apply a standard dressing to the wound and bandage
firmly and widely in position. There may be a slight staining of blood through the dressing,
which is of little consequence, but if blood soaks quickly through the pad it is a sign that the
bleeding has not been properly controlled. If this happens, do not disturb the dressing, but put
another standard dressing on top and bandage more firmly. This will usually stop the bleeding.
Very occasionally, a third dressing may be required.
Do not disturb the dressings until you are prepared to undertake definitive treatment. The
bleeding stops because of the formation of a clot. If you remove the dressing, the clot will break
and bleeding will start again.
Special types of external bleeding
From an open fracture
The bleeding comes mainly from around the break and not from
the bone.
•
do not attempt to elevate the part, this will cause further pain
and damage;
• apply a dressing, sterile if possible, padding around the
wound. Firm bandaging will apply the necessary pressure to
the tissue around the exposed bone ends.
From a tooth socket:
• The socket may bleed after the extraction of a tooth. This
kind of bleeding is seldom serious. At least two-thirds of the
'blood' which is spat out will be saliva, so the blood loss is
unlikely to be great;
•
if the gum margins are splayed out, squeeze them gently
together to close up the tooth socket;
• fold a piece of gauze tightly and place it in the socket so that it
is standing proud of the level of the remaining teeth;
• the casualty should close his mouth, biting firmly on the gauze
in the tooth socket. The pressure should be maintained for
20 minutes. If the socket is still bleeding on removing the
gauze pad, the procedure should be repeated as often as is
necessary (Figure 1.36).
From the ear passage:
This is usually caused by a head injury or by blast:
•
place a large pad over the ear and bandage it in position;
•
keep the affected ear downwarq,s;
•
if the casualty is unconscious, place in the unconscious
position with the affected ear downwards;
•
never plug the ear passage with cotton wool or other material.
From the nose:
• the casualty should sit with his head over a basin or bowl
while pinching the soft part of his nose firmly for 10 minutes;
(Figure 1.37);
•
he should then release the pressure slowly;
•
if bleeding has not stopped, he should repeat the manoeuvre
for a further 10 minutes;
•
it might be necessary to do this for a third time;
•
if bleeding has not stopped after half-an-hour, it might then be
necessary to pack the nose with ribbon gauze. (See Chapter 4)
From the /ips, cheek and tongue:
•
press on both sides of the lip, cheek or tongue to stop
bleeding;
•
use a piece of gauze or a swab on each side to help maintain
pressure and stop the fingers slipping (Figure 1.38);
•
pressing is usually most easily done by the casualty with
direction from another person, or helped by looking in a mirror.
22
THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Internal bleeding
Internal bleeding may be caused by injury, disease, or by the action of certain poisons. Any
severe injury to the body will cause bleeding of varying degree. Bleeding may be limited to the
soft tissues, such as muscles, but when a bone breaks there is always bleeding at the fracture
site. Minor injury will affect only the superficial tissues and the bleeding may be limited to small
amounts which will appear as bruising. Greater force will result, in addition to bruising, in the
formation of a collection of blood within the deeper tissues (a haematoma). This causes painful
swelling of the affected part and may be difficult to distinguish from a fracture. Whatever the
nature of such injuries, the blood loss very rarely endangers life.
In contrast, bleeding from injury to internal organs is always very serious and may quickly
endanger life. Such bleeding is always concealed and its presence has to be deduced from the
history ofthe injury, a rising pulse rate and the signs and symptoms of shock which occur rapidly.
The abdominal organs are poorly protected by the abdominal wall and they are particularly
liable to injury by direct or crushing forces. These internal injuries require expert treatment
urgently and every effort must be made to deliver the casualty to medical care. Always get
RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE. There is little that can be done aboard because a blood transfusion
may be needed.
If internal bleeding is suspected:
•
put in bed with a head-down tilt;
•
if conscious and in pain or restless, give mocphine 10 mg;
•
cover with only one blanket;
•
record the pulse rate at 10 minute intervals. A faWing rate may indicate that the bleeding
has stopped (Figure A);
-
• give fluid per rectum (Chapter 3);
•
if the injury is abdominal, allow the patient to suck flakes of ice. With bleeding from other
parts of the body, sips of water may be given;
• treat for shock.
4
Coughing up or vomiting blood
NOTE: remember that bleeding can occur from the back of the nose, a tooth socket, bleeding
gums, etc. It is important that this should not be confused with bleeding from the stomach or
lungs.
Coughing up of blood
In some lung diseases and casesof injury to the chest, blood may be coughed up. Except in cases
of injury this is seldom fatal.
Treatment is the same as for internal bleeding with the exception1hat the patient should be
placed at rest with the head and shoulders raised. It is not usually necessary to give fluid per
rectum. For further care see Chapter 4.
See Examination of sputum (Chapter 3).
Vomiting blood
Blood may be vomited if the stomach is injured by a wound of the abdomen or if blood collects
in the stomach as a result of a bleeding peptic ulcer. In the latter case the patient may suddenly
vomit a quantity of dark brown fluid like coffee grounds. He feels faint and looks pale. If the
bleeding and vomiting continue he will suffer' increasingly from shock.
Treatment is the same as for internal bleeding. For further treatment of this condition, see
Chapter 7. If there is a wound of the abdomen, this should be treated.
Wounds
A wound at any site in the body posesthree problems:
• control of bleeding;
•
prevention of shock
•
prevention of infection
There are some simple rules:
•
never wash the wound - except in casesof an animal bite
•
never try to remove pieces of metal or glass from a wound unless they are superficial and
can be easily lifted out. If pieces can be removed, do it by grasping the material with sterile
gauze or use sterile forceps, if available;
• do not pour antiseptic into a wound;
• assoon as possible, cover the wound with a suitable dressing.
Bullet or metal fragment wounds
In this type of injury, look for and treat any exit wound. This is usually larger than the entry
wound. Remember that there may be underlying bone fractures and that the bullet or metal
fragment may have been deflected from the bone to cause serious internal damage, the only
signs of which may be increasing shock.
,
24
THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Chest wounds
A superficial chest wound should be treated as for any wound elsewhere but a penetrating
wound (a sucking wound) of the chest must be sealed immediately, otherwise air is drawn into
the chest cavity and the lungs cannot inflate as the vacuum inside the chest is destroyed.
A useful dressing for a sucking wound can be made from a paraffin gauze dressing. Place the
paraffin gauze over the wound, smooth the foil on to the chest wall and seal three edges only
with zinc oxide adhesive plaster. In emergency, a suitable dressing may be improvised from
petroleum jelly, gauze and kitchen foil or polythene or, alternatively, a wet dressing may be
used to provide an airtight seal. If nothing else is available, use the casualty's own bloodstained
clothing to plug the wound temporarily. The aim is to prevent air entering the chest but to
allow it to escape if necessary.
The usual rules about stopping bleeding by pressing where the blood comes from also apply.
Start a pulse chart soon to check on possible internal bleeding in all chest injuries. The
respiratory rate should also be recorded. See also sections on chest injuries.
Conscious casualties should be placed in the half-sitting-up position because breathing is
easier in this position.
NOTE: DO NOT GIVE MORPHINE to a patient with this type of wound, even if he is suffering
from a lot of pain, as the morphine will increase the breathing difficulties.
Get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
Abdominal wounds
A superficial abdominal wound will requ1re the
same treatment as any wound, but for more serious
wounds, ifthe abdominal contents do not protrude,
cover the wound with a large standard dressing andplace the casualty in the half-sitting-up
position
(Figure 1.39). In this position the wound will not
gape open. As the abdominal muscles are slack, the
abdominal contents will not bulge through. If the
wound runs more or lessvertically, it may be best to
lay the man flat.
If the abdominal contents do protrude through
the wouna, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO PUT THEM BACK.
Cover with a loosely applied large standard dressing
or dressings until further treatment can be given.
Shock will develop quickly and should be treated as
described previously, with the following important
exceptions:
•
prop up if necessary;
•
DO NOT give anything by mouth. If thirsty, the lips should be moistened; nothing more.
(See also Crush wounds and Stab wounds below).
•
Get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
Head wounds
The wound itself should be treated in the same way as any other wOI,Jnd. Scalp wounds often
bleed briskly. A firm bandage will usually arrest the bleeding, but some ingenuity may be
required in applying the bandage so as to keep it firmly on the head and transmit the necessary
pressure to the pad. Firm pressure by the fingers over the pad for a few minutes before it is
finally fixed in position will help to stop the bleeding.
The possibility of brain damage is of greater importance and two rules should be observed:
•
morphine should be given only if conscious and in much pain from more serious injuries
elsewhere;
•
if unconscious, put in the unconscious position and give the treatment
Chapter 4.
•
Get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
described in
Chapter 1 FIRSTAID
Face and jaw wounds
There may be danger of suffocation as a result of blood running into the throat.
unconscious position (Figure 1.26) with the more damaged side underneath.lfthe
be removed by stretcher, see that he remains in that position. With severe wounds
loss of the power of speech. Give reassurance; speech will probably return to
healing has taken place.
Lay flat in the
casualty is to
there may be
normal when
Palm of the hand wounds
A deep wound of the palm of the hand may cut the large artery in this area. If this occurs:
• stop the bleeding by pressing where the blood comes from;
• cover the wound with a sterile gauze dressing and ask the patient to grasp firmly on a
rolled-up 7.5 cm bandage;
•
a hand bandage, firmly applied, will hold the dressing in place and will maintain the
pressure necessary to control the bleeding.
Crush injuries
Limbs
After a crush injury, at first there may be very little to see. However, considerable damage may
have been done to the muscles and other soft tissues and gross swelling nJ.aytake place later.
Shock, which may be very severe, may also develop.
• treat any wound;
•
• the affected limb should be immobilised and supported in its most comfortable
position;
• treat shock as described but:
• do not give large amounts of fluid at once as the casualty will vomit;
• give frequent small amounts of water only.
•
GET RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
Chest
~
Crushing of the chest may stop breathing and then artificial respiration will be required.
If ribs have been fractured, treat as described under fractures.
See also section on chest injuries.
Abdomen
Severe crushing of the abdomen may cause rupture of the internal organs and/or internal
bleeding. If you suspect that this has occurred, Get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE. See general advice
on abdominal wounds at beginning of this section and stab wounds below.
Stab wounds
Stab wounds are especially dangerous because the underlying structures will have been
penetrated and infection will have been carried into the deep tissues.
Chest:
•
if the lung has been penetrated, it will collapse giving rise to breathlessness and coughing
of bright red frothy blood;
•
a sucking wound can be created;
.' the heart can be damaged.
•
Get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE
• see also section on chest injuries.
25
26
THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Abdomen
Depending on the position of the wound (see Anatomy Diagrams, Annex II), an organ may be
pierced, giving rise to peritonitis and internal bleeding. See general advice at beginning ofthis
section. Get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
Limbs
Muscles, nerves and blood vessels may be cut. Bleeding, both internal and external, will occur.
Whatever the site of the stab wound, the immediate treatment is the same:
• stop external bleeding by pressure
•
prevent further infection by applying suitable dressings
• treat shock if necessary.
Fractures
A fracture is a broken bone. The bone may be broken into two or more pieces with separation
of the fragments or it may have one or more fissured cracks without any separation.
Most fractures are caused by direct force, but force may be transmitted through the body to
cause injury indirectly elsewhere. Two classical examples are: a fall on the outstretched hand,
causing a fracture ofthe collar bone; and a fall from a height on to the heels, causing a fracture
ofthe base ofthe skull.
A much less common type is a stress fracture. The bone becomes weakened in a way
comparable to metal fatigue. Sudden, strong muscular effort may snap the bone.
In simple terms, a fracture may be open to infection or closed to infection.
A closed fracture
There is no communication
between the fracture and the surface of the body.
An open fracture
There is communication between a skin wound and the fracture. Open fractures are always
serious because germs may enter through the wound to cause infection of the broken bone and
the surroun9ing tissues.
NOTE: A skin wound may be present but, unless it is deep enough to reach the broken bone,
the fracture is still closed. Open or closed fractures are sometimes complicated by damage to
important structures such as the brain, lung, blood vessels or nerves.
Principles of treatment
It is not possible to set fractures on board ship. Indeed, many fractures may not require setting
and unskilled attempts might prejudice healing. First aid measures should ensure adequate
immobilisation. Wherever a fracture case has to be kept on board for more than two or three
days, the joints above and below the fracture site should be gently put through a full range of
movements, morning and night.
Lasting damage may result if a joint surface is involved in the fracture and in all caseswhere
this is suspected, RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE must be sought.
Antibiotic treatment must always be given as soon as an open fracture is diagnosed or
suspected.
Examination
The following
signs and symptoms will indicate that the bone is probably broken:
• a heavy blow or other force has been applied to the body or limbs. The casualty or others
may have heard the bone break;
•
intense pain, especially on pressure or movement at the site;
• swelling. The site may be swollen and/or bruised. This may be due to internal bleeding;
•
loss of use. The casualty may be unable or unwilling to use the injured part because of the
Chapter 1 FIRSTAID
pain. He may also experience severe pain if an attempt, even very gently, is made to help
him make the movement. Watch his face for signs of pain. Occasionally, if the broken ends
of a bone are impacted together, the person may be able to use the part but usually only
with a fair amount of pain;
•
distortion. Compare good and bad limbs or sides of the body to see if the part is swollen,
bent, twisted or shortened;
•
irregularity. The irregular edges of a broken bone can sometimes be seen in an open
fracture. They may be seen or felt under the skin in a closed fracture;
• unnatural movement and grating of bone ends. Neither of these symptoms should be
sought deliberately. A limb may feel limp and wobbly and grating may be felt when trying
to apply support to the limb. In either of these situations, the bone is certainly broken.
General treatment
•
bleeding should be treated as described;
•
rest the affected part by immobilisation.
stops further bleeding;
•
all fractures or suspected fractures must be immobilised before making any attempt to
move the casualty. This can be done using wooden, improvised or inflatable splints, or by
fixing a limb to the body, or - in the case of the legs - by lashing one to the other.
This prevents further damage, relieves pain and
Immobilise a limb in the position in which it is
found, if it is comfortable. If it does become
necessary to move an injured limb, because of
poor circulation or for any other reason, first
apply traction by pulling the limb gently and
firmly away from the body before attempting to
move it (Figure 1.40).
Keep pulling until it has been securely
immobilised and then release the traction very
slowly. Sudden release can cause pain.
Circulation of the blood in a f,.~ctured limb.
Check that the circulation to the limb is intact. To
do this, press on the nail of the thumb or of the
big toe. When circulation is normal the nail
becomes white when pressed and pink when
released. Continue checking until you are
satisfied that all is well. Danger signs are:
•
blueness or whiteness of fingers and toes;
• coldness of the parts below the fracture;
•
loss of feeling below the injury. Test for this by touching lightly on fingers and toes and
asking the casualty if he can feel anything;
•
absence of pulse.
Ifthere is any doubt at all aboutthe circulation, loosen all tight and limb-encircling dressings
at once and straighten out the limb, remembering to use traction when doing so. Check
circulation again. If the limb does not become pink and warm and you cannot detect a pulse,
then medical help is urgently necessary if amputation is to be avoided. Get RADIO MEDICAL
ADVICE.
•
remember that fractures can cause severe interr
bleeding;
• always look for and treat for shock;
•
morphine may be necessary to control pain.
27
28
THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Collar bone, shoulder blade and shoulder
Fractures in these areas are often the result either of a fall on
the outstretched hand or a fall on to the shoulder. Direct
violence to the parts is a less common cause of these
fractures.
Place loose padding about the size of a fist into the
armpit. Support the arm using a triangular sling (Figure 1.41).
Then tie the arm to the body, using a narrow fold bandage.
Keep the casualty sitting up as he will probably be most
comfortable in this position.
Upper arm
Upper arm fractures are usually caused by direct violence.
Bind the upper arm to the body, using a broad fold
bandage. Bend the elbow gently and apply a collar and cuff
sling (Figure 1.42). Keep the casualty sitting up so that the
weight of the arm can supply traction to the lower fragment.
Alternatively, upper arm fractures may be splinted. Bend
the elbow gently. Use three well padded splints. Place one
behind the upper arm, one in front and the third from the tip
of the shoulder to the elbow. Bandage the splints securely in
place. Support the arm with a collar and cuff 'S1ing(see also
Figure 1.21).
Elbow
Fractures in this area can be especially dangerous because of
damage to blood vessels and nerves around the elbow.
Check circulation and feeling in the fingers. If the finger tips
are white or blue and feeling is absent or altered, the elbow
must be straightened at once. Tell the casualty to lie down.
Be gentle. Apply traction on the hand and forearm. Bring the
arm and f6ttearm slowly and carefully to the casualty's side.
Now place plenty of loose padding between the arm and the
body and also around the arm. Then bind the forearm to the
body by encircling ties. Check the circulation again when you
have made the encircling ties. If the circulation is poor, the
ties should be loosely secured until the casualty has to be
moved (Figure 1.43).
Chapter 1 FIRSTAID
Forearm and wrist
Fractures in this area commonly result from a fall on the outstretched hand. Bend the elbow until
the forearm is acrossthe body. Then apply an arm sling (Figure 1.20). Remove any finger rings.
Later, apply two well padded splints to the back and front of the forearm and secure firmly,
using narrow fold bandages. Support the arm with a broad arm sling. For fractures of the wrist
bones, put a broad, well padded splint on the front of the forearm and the palm of the hand.
Put plenty of padding on the back of the forearm and hand and secure. Use a broad arm sling
for support.
Hand and fingers
Fractures of the hand bones (metacarpals) and the finger bones are a common result of
shipboard accidents and expert treatment may be many days away. As fixation in a straight
splint is only permissible for a short time, the treatment described in the following paragraphs
should be undertaken if the casualty has to be kept on board. Always remove rings
immediately.
The hand bones (metacarpals):
•
apply a crepe bandage around the hand and wrist firmly enough to support the injured
part but not so tight as to prevent movement of the wrist and finger joints;
• check that circulation to the fingers is present;
•
elevate the hand by placing the arm in a triangular
.
sling to reduce th~
swelling;
• encourage the casualty to move the wrist and all the finger joints frequei)tly.
The fingers:
• strap the finger to the adjacent finger, using zinc oxide
adhesive plaster (as shown in Figure 1.44);
•
be careful that you do not prevent movement of the
finger joints. Do not put the plaster directly over the
fracture;
'"'
• to avoid swelling, elevate the hand by putting the arm in
a triangular sling;
• encourage the casualty to move all the finger joints.
Open fracture
of the fingers:
• stop the bleeding and apply a dressing to the wound;
•
if the dressing prevents strapping to the adjacent finger,
use as a splint, a strip of aluminium or other soft metal
2 cm wide and long enough to stretch from the tip of the
finger to just below the wrist joint;
•
immobilise the finger in the position shown in Figure 1.45.
This is done by bending the splint to conform with the
joints, using the same finger of the undamaged hand as a
pattern, and taking care to ensure that the splint will not
dig into the back of the hand or into the wrist;
•
pad the splint with two layers of elastic adhesive
bandage along its length. Turn the bandage over the
ends to protect the skin;
• fix the splint to the finger with zinc oxide plaster cut to
suitable widths;
•
give standard antibiotic treatment.
29
30
THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Crush injuries to the hand
Severe crushing injuries to the hands may cause multiple open or closed fractures of the
metacarpal or finger bones. Other wounds are likely to be present.
•
stop the bleeding and apply dressings;
•
pain will be severe. Give analgesics (Morphine if necessary);
•
if hospital treatment is not available quickly, read the section on definitive treatment
wounds and treat accordingly.
of
Hip to knee
A broken thigh bone is a potentially serious injury. It causes significant internal bleeding into
the muscles of the thigh and, with the associated pain, shock very quickly develops. If it is
combined with other serious injuries, the blood loss may be so great as to require blood
replacement. Get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE
•
a break of the neck of the thigh bone causes shortening of the injured leg and the casualty
will lie with the whole lower limb and foot flopped outwards. There will be severe pain in
the region of the hip;
• fractures of the shaft of the thigh bone exhibit the usual signs and symptoms of a fracture.
Severe pain is a normal feature ..
"If you think that the thigh is broken:
• first, pad between the thighs, knees, calves anc;Jankles, using folded blankets or any other
suitable soft material;
•
bring the good leg to the broken leg. Do this slowly and carefully;
•
bring the feet together. If attempting to do this causes pain, apply traction to the injured
leg gently and slowly, and then try again;
• tie encircling bandages: around both feet; halfway between the knees and the ankles; just
above the knees; and at the upper thighs. Avoid making any ties over the site of the
fractCKe (Figure 1.46);
• the shoe on the affected side can now be removed so that you can check the circulation in
the toes - if necessary, loosen any bandages - and then replace the figure-of-eight bandage
around the ankles and feet;
• treat for shock and pain - morphine will be needed.
Kneecap
This fracture may be caused by direct violence or as a result of a sudden stress on the bone.
It is commonly a closed fracture. When an open fracture occurs, the wound should be treated
before splinting is undertaken and antibiotit treatment should be given.
•
place the casualty in a half-sitting-up position and put supports behind his back to maintain
this. Raise the leg and hold it in a comfortable position.
•
choose a splint long enough to reach from the buttock to beyond the heel, pad it well and
apply it along the back of the leg. Put additional padding behind the hollow at the heel so
as to lift it off the splint, and also behind the knee;
• secure the splint in place with bandages round the thigh, round the lower leg just below
the knee and with a figure-of-eight bandage at the ankle, and elevate the leg on a suitable
support (Figure 1.47).
When the casualty is moved tothe cabin or to the ship's hospital, he should be kept in a sitting
position with the leg elevated.
When medical attention will not be available for some time and it is obvious that there is a
wide gap between the fragments of the knee cap, carry out the procedure described above, but
put a figure-of-eight
bandage round the knee, beginning above the ~nee cap and finishing
over padding applied just below it (Figure 1.48).
This method will draw the fragments together and hold them in place. Check that the
circulation is intact.
Knee to foot
Lower limb
These should be treated in the same way as fractures of the thigh. See also below for fractures
of both legs.
Ankle
".
An ankle fracture which is stable and
without any deformity can be given
adequate but temporary first aid by
placing the injured ankle on a
number of pillows to keep it at rest
(Figure 1.49).
In more serious fractures of the
ankle it is usual to find a good deal of
deformity and swelling, and splinting
may be necessary.
•
remove the casualty's shoe and sock
•
obtain two splints, long enough to stretch from just below the knee to the sole of the foot.
Pad these well to allow for the deformity and swelling, and apply them to both sides of the
leg;
• fix them in place with a figure-of-eight
below the knee and above the ankle;
•
bandage to the foot and place other bandages just
check that the circulation is intact.
Heel bone
'These fractures usually occur when the casualty has fallen from a height and lands on his heels.
As force has been transmitted upwards, there may be more serious fractures elsewhere, e.g. spine
and base of the skull, and the patient should be carefully examined to exclude these.Treat as
above, for fractures of the ankle.
32
THE SHIP CAPTAIN'S MEDICAL GUIDE
Bones of the foot
Severe injuries are usually the result of heavy weights being
dropped on to unprotected feet or of crushing. Fractures of the
toes may occur when they are stubbed against some hard object.
•
remove the boot or shoe and the socks carefully;
• treat any wound.
•
keep the foot elevated and use pillows to keep it in a
comfortable position.
Both legs
As there is no good leg to act as a splint for the other, external
splinting will have to be used. There may be considerable blood
loss if both legs are broken.
•
have well padded splints available. These should reach from
the thigh to the ankles on the outside of both the legs for
below the knee fractures, and from the armpit to the ankles
for above the knee fractures;
•
pad between the thighs, knees, calves and ankles;
•
bring both feet together as gently as you can, using traction
if necessary.
• tie a figure-of-eight bandage round the feet and ankles to
keep the feet together;
•
apply the padded spl ints to the outside of both legs;
• tie enough encircling bandages to keep the splints and the
legs secured firmly together. Avoid making any ties over the
site of any break (Figure 1.50);
• check the circulation in both feet as described for thigh
fractures;
•
move the casualty in a Neil Robertson stretcher.
Jaw
Normally, fractures of the lower jaw give little trouble.
• the casualty sits with the teeth clenched, often refusing to
speak much on account ofthe pain;
• the spasm of the jaw muscles caused by pain keeps the teeth
clenched and jaw immobilised;
•
a bandage, tied as in Figure 1.51, will supportthe
lower jaw.
A major hazard arises when both sides of the lower jaw are
fractured. In this case, the jaw with the tongue attached on the
inside of it, can move backwards and may obstruct the air
passage.
•
hook a finger, yours or the casualty's, over and behind the
lower front teeth and pull the jaw, and with it the tongue,
forwards;
•
if possible, arrange for the casualty to sit up with his head
forwards;
•
if he cannot sit up, on account of other injuries, place him in
the unconscious position and someone must stay with him,
keeping the jaw pulled forward, if necessary, and watching
carefully for any sign of obstructed breathing.
Chapter 1 FIRSTAID
Spine
Always suspect a fracture of the spine if a person has fallen a distance of over two metres.
Check carefully how the injury happened. Ask if there is pain in the back. Most people with
fractures of the spine have pain but a very few DO NOT. If in doubt, treat the injury as a
fractured spine.
A FRACTURED SPINE IS POTENTIALLY A VERY SERIOUS INJURY. IF YOU SUSPECT A
FRACTURED SPINE, TELL THE CASUALTY TO LIE STILL AND DO NOT ALLOW ANYONE TO
MOVE HIM UNTIL FIRSTAID TREATMENT HAS BEEN COMPLETED
Any careless movement of a casualty with a fractured spine could damage or sever the spinal
cord, resulting in permanent paralysis and loss of feeling in the legs, and double incontinence
for life. He can, however, be safely rolled over onto one side or the other because, if this is done
very gently and carefully, there is very little movement of the spine.
First, establish whether the spina I cord has been damaged. To do this:
•
ask the casualty if he can feel any tingling of the feet or legs. Tingling usually means that
there is some pressure on the spina I cord;
•
ask him to move his toes. If he is unable to do this, then paralysis is present and indicates
severe damage to the spinal cord;
•
run your fingers lightly over the skin of the lower legs and feet. Absence of sensation
indicates severe damage to the spinal cord.
If any of these are found, get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE
•
next, place padding between the legs;
• tie the feet and ankles together with a figure-of-eight bandage and get the casualty lying
still and straight. Use gentle traction on the head and on the feet to straighten him out. Do
not bend him. Take your time;
Figure 1.52
• tie a narrow fold bandage around the casualty at the level of his elbows and mid thighs.
This method keeps the casualty rigid (Figure 1.53);
•
place pads to fill and support the hollows of the spine at the small of the back and at the '.
neck (Figure 1.52);
,
•
he can now lie safely in this position for as long as is necessary. So do not be in a hurry to
move him;
•
prepare a stiff supporting stretcher ready for the patient. There may be a need to stiffen
the Neil Robertson stretcher with broom handles. A canvas stretcher will not do unless it
has stiff wooden boards laid transversely over the canvas to provide a rigid support for
the back. Two pads must be provided to support and fill the hollo,!"s of the spine in the
small of the back and behind the neck. The back pad should be larger than the neck pad
(Figure 1.52);
33
• when the stretcher has been prepared
and is alongside the casualty, the next
job is to lift him onto the prepared
stretcher as described in Figures 1.53 to
1.58;
NOTE: In Figures 1.54 to 1.58 the
encircling bandages shown in Figure
1.53 round the thighs and at the
elbows have been omitted for clarity.
See also Notes at end of this Section;
• to lift the casualty, have at least two
people grasping each side of the
blanket and one person at the head
and one at the feet to provide in line
support. Those lifting the blanket
should be spaced so that more lifting
power is available at the body end,
which is heavy compared to the legs.
A further person is required to push the
prepared stretcher under the casualty
when he is lifted (Figure 1.57);
•
lift the casualty very slowly and
carefully to a height of about half a
metre. The height should be just
enough to slip the stretcher under the
casualty. Be careful, take time, keep
the casualty straight (Figure 1.58);
•
slide the stretcher between the legs
of the person who is supporting the
ankles. Then move the stretcher
towards the head end until it is exactly
underneath the casualty. Adjust the
position of the pads to fit exactly
under the curves in the small of the
back and neck;
•
lower the casualty very, very slowly on
to the stretcher. Maintain support
until he is resting firmly on the
stretcher (Figure 1.58);
• the casualty is now ready for removal.
Chapter 1 FIRSTAID
When the casualty has been very carefully transported to a
mattress on the deck, or other very firm bed, where he may
remain undisturbed flat on his back, the most
important single point isto keep him asstill as
possible. He must continue
to be
supported with pillows, etc., as described
later in the text. Every care and attention,
and encouragement must be given to help
him to remain still, whether or not any paralysis is
present. Bags filled with sand should be placed as
necessary to prevent the body or limbs rolling. A urine
bottle should be constantly available, and a catheter should
be used to relieve him if necessary. He should pass any faeces
on to cotton wool or other material: he must not be lifted on
to a bed pan. His back should be treated, so far as possible, to
prevent sores. He must be put ashore at the very earliest
possible moment. Get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE
NOTES:
(1) As there are a number of people
helping and since it is important to take
great care in handling the casualty, it
may be helpful to have a person read
out the particular instruction before
each operation is carried out.
(2) At least seven people are required to
carry out this manoeuvre. In ships with
small crews, there may be insufficient
numbers of men available. In this case,do
not attempt to move the casualty but
carry out the instructions given above on
immobilising him and padding the
natural curves of the spine. The casualty
should then be kept warm, his pain should
be treated (seesection on analgesics and, if he
is on the deck, he should be protected from the elements with
suitable waterproof coverings.
Figure 1.57
Figure 1.58
Neck
Injuries to the neck are often compression fractures of the
vertebrae due, for example, to a person standing up
suddenly and bumping his head violently, or by something
falling on his head. Falls from a height can also produce neck
injuries. Treatment is similar to that described above for
fractures of the spine, because the neck is the upper part of
the spine.
• the casualty should be laid flat, if not already in this
position, and should be kept still and straight;
•
a semi-rigid neck collar should then be applied gently to
stop movement of the neck while an assistant steadies
the head. An improvised neck collar can be made quite
easily from a newspaper. Fold the newspaper so that the
width is about 10 cm at the front. Fold the bottom edge
over to produce a slightly narrower back. Then fold this
around the neck with the top edge under the chin and
the bottom edge over the top of the collar bones;
• tie a bandage, scarf or a necktie over the newspaper to
hold it in place. This will keep the neck still (Figure 1.59).
Figure 1.59
35
36
THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Chest
See Fractured ribs.
Pelvis
A fracture of the pelvis will result from direct violence in the pelvic area or from a fall from a
height when the casualty has landed on both feet with the legs held stiffly. The main danger of
this injury is of damage to the pelvic organs, especially the bladder and the urethra (the pipe
which leads from the bladder to the tip of the penis).
• the casualty will complain of pain in the
hip, groin and pelvic areas and,
perhaps, also of pain in the lower back
and buttock areas, made worse by
moving or coughing;
•
he will be unable to stand, despite
there being no injury to the legs;
•
he may want to pass urine although he
may be unable to do so. If urine is
passed, it may be blood-stained.
• there may be signs of internal bleeding;
• the compression test is useful. Press
gently on the front of both hip bones in
a downward and inward direction so as
to compress the pelvis. This will give rise
to sharp pain if it is broken. Some
movement of the pelvic bones may also
be felt if there is a fracture (Figure 1.60),
but do not continue pressing in an
attempt to el icit th is sign, as further
damage may be caused.
Figure 1.60
If you think that the pelvis may be fractured, tell the casualty:
•
not to move;
•
not to pass any urine if he can avoid it. If urine is passed, look for staining with blood.
Remember that:
•
if the bladder or urethra is damaged, urine can leak into the tissues;
•
bleeding into the surrounding tissues and into the pelvic and lower abdominal cavities may
be severe. A pulse chart must be started immediately to check for internal haemorrhage.
•
lay the patient in his most comfortable position. This will usually be on his .back. If he wants
to bend the knees, support them with pillows. Place padding between the legs;
•
apply a broad fold bandage round both knees and a figure-of-eight
ankles;
•
move the casualty with great care. Use the same technique as for fracture of the spine.
•
keep checking for internal bleeding.
bandage around the
• when moved to a cabin or to the ship's hospital, allow the casualty to lie in whatever
position he finds most comfortable;
•
morphine may be required to control the pain;
RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE should be obtained.
Chapter 1 FIRSTAID
Dislocations
A dislocation is present when a bone has been displaced from
its normal position at a joint (Figure 1.61).
It may be diagnosed:
• when an injury occurs at or near a joint and the joint
cannot be used normally;
•
movement is limited or impossible;
• there is pain, often quite severe. The pain is made worse
by attempts to move the joint;
• the area is misshapen both by the dislocation and by
swelling (bleeding) which occurs around the dislocation;
• with the exception of no grating of bone ends, the
evidence for a dislocation is very similar to that of a
fracture;
•
always remember that fractures and dislocations can
occur together.
Treatment
• dislocations can be closed or open. If a wound is present,
at or near the dislocation, the wound should be covered,
both to stop bleeding and to help to prevent infection;
give antibiotic treatment;
• do not attempt to reduce a dislocation. A fracture may
also be present and attempted manipulation to reduce
the dislocation in these circumstances can make matters
worse;
(b) Dislocated
Figure 1.61
•
prevent movement in the affected area by suitable immobilisation. The techniques for
immobilisation are exactly the same as for fractures of the same area(s).
•
look out for impaired circulation and loss of feeling. If these are present, and if you cannot
feel a pulse at the wrist or ankle, try to move the limb gently into a position in which
circulation can return and keep the limb in this position. Look then for a change of the
fingers or toes, from white or blue to pink;
• transport the casualty in the most comfortable position. This is usually sitting up for upper
limb injuries and lying down for lower limb injuries;
• for further treatment
Head injuries
of dislocations of the shoulder and of the fingers, see Chapter 4.
'.,
Head injuries commonly result from blows to the head and from falls, often from a height.
Most preventable serious head injury deaths result from obstructed breathing and from
breathing difficulties, not from brain damage. Apart from covering serious head wounds, your
attention should be concentrated on the life-saving measures which support normal breathing
and which prevent obstructed breathing. This will ensure that the brain gets sufficient oxygen
easily. In this way you have a good chance of keeping the casualty alive in order to get him
skilled medical aid in a hospital; get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
NOTE: in the case of some head injuries or where a foreign body or a fracture is directly below
an open wound, you should NOT control bleeding by direct pressure on top of the wound. In
these circumstances a sterile gauze dressing is applied over the wound and a bandage is padded
around the wound and over the edge of the dressing, held firmly in place by a bandage.
See Chapter 4 for further information.
37
38
THE SHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Chest injuries
See also Wounds, Crush wounds, Stab wounds.
Fracture of the ribs
This is a common fracture which is usually caused by falling against a hard surface or by
a crushing injury. Signs and symptoms are:
• sharp, continuous pain which is increased when breathing in or by coughing;
• shallow breathing to prevent chest movements;
•
marked localised tenderness when the injured area is felt gently.
Uncomplicated
•
rib fracture:
make the casualty sit down in the normal sitting position but, if pain is severe, place
him in the half-sitting-up position, leaning over towards the injured side;
• transport him in this position to the ship's hospital or his cabin;
• treat pain;
• do not put strapping around his chest;
•
keep him at rest in the position he finds most comfortable,
a chair or on the floor (Figures 1.62, 1.63, 1.64).
Severe chest injuries
The ribs form a rigid cage which protects the heart and lungs.
Severe force may cause anyone or a combination of the
following injuries:
•
a superficial wound and/or bruising of the chest
• a penetrating
(sucking) wound of the chest wall
•
multiple rib fractures on one or both sides of the chest,
together with injury to the underlying lung and its
covering (the pleura);
•
a 'stove-in' segment of the chest wall.
The fragments of a fractured rib are usually held in place by
the muscles between the ribs. After severe injury, a rib
fragment may be driven inwards, causing a tear in the
covering of the lung with consequent leaking of blood or air
into the chest cavity. The lung on that side will then collapse
and/or be compressed, resulting in difficulty in breathing.
There may be a blue/grey tinge to the skin of the face and lips,
and the casualty may cough up frothy blood-stained sputum.
Treatment
Get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE and get the casualty to expert
treatment, or expert treatment to the casualty, as soon as
possible.
•
place in the half-sitting-up position leaning towards the
injured side (Figure 1.62). If both sides are injured, keep
in the upright half-sitting up position (Figure 1.63);
•
keep the air passage clear. Remove dentures, if worn, and
encourage him to spit out any blood, vomit or secretions;
•
deal with any sucking wound.
• transport to ship's hospital, or cabin, as soon as possible,
but keeping him in the sitting position advised above;
• when in bed, in the correct position, relieve pain but DO
NOT GIVE MORPHINE;
• watch for signs of internal bleeding and obstructed
breathing.
either in bed or sitting in
39
Chapter 1 FIRSTAID
Unconscious casualty
Transport and later nurse in bed in the unconscious position, lying on the injured side (not the
uninjured side) and with a head-down tilt.
Stove-in chest injury
In a very severe injury, multiple fractures of the ribs may lead to a portion of the chest wall
being 'stove-in'. That portion contains adjacent ribs which have been fractured at both ends,
thus allowing the portion to have free movement independent from and in the opposite
direction to the movement of the rest of the rib cage. This is called paradoxical movement and
it is an important sign in diagnosis.
Treatment
•
give treatment
as for multiple fractures of ribs;
•
using the flat hand, either the casualty or the attendant should maintain firm pressure over
the stove-in portion of the chest wall;
• a pad of folded cloth should be placed over the damaged area and bandaged firmly in
place, using wide crepe bandages to encircle the chest. If breathing movements are
hindered by the chest bandage, strips of elastic adhesive bandage, which do not encircle
the chest, may be used.
NOTE: Infections of the lung may appear as a serious complication of any severe chest injury.
Whenever a casualty has to be kept on board, always start a course of antibiotic treatment.
Blast injuries
Explosions cause a sudden and violent disturbance of the air; fires can be started and toxic gases
produced.
•
men may be thrown down and so injured. Further injury may occur from falling wreckage;
• the blast of air itself may strike the body with such violence as to cause severe or fatal
internal injuries;
•
casesof burns or asphyxia may occur.
Apart from fractures, wounds, severe bleeding, burns and asphyxia, any combination
following injuries may be found.
of the
Head
i
The effect of blast injury to the head is rather like concussion. In some cases there may be
paralysis due to spinal cord damage. The patient may be unconscious or he may be extremely
dazed. Dazed casualties can be found sitting about, incapable of moving and not caring what
is going on. Although apparently to outward appearances uninjured, they do not have the
energy, or indeed the will, to move. They will appear confused and disorientated.
t
•
if unconscious, put in the unconscious position immediately. Check for breathing, heart'
stopped and bleeding;
•
if dazed, take them by the hand and lead them to safety. Tell them firmly what they must
do. Detail someone to look after them.
Lungs
The blast of air may damage the air sacsand the small blood vessels ofthe lungs.
•
bleeding may take place inside the lungs;
• the patient may be shocked;
•
he may have difficulty
there may be pain;
in breathing. There may be a feeling of tightness in the chest and
40
THE SHIP CAPTAIN'S MEDICAL GUIDE
•
lips, ears and the skin ofthe face may be blue;
•
he may cough up a blood-stained froth;
• take the patient into the fresh air if possible;
• support him in the half-sitting-up
position
•
loosen tight clothing to allow him to breathe more easily;
•
keep him warm and treat for shock;
•
encourage him to cough and spit out any secretions
produced;
•
artificial respiration or assisted respiration may be
required if breathing fails or becomes difficult.
PATIENTS WITH CHEST INJURIES MUST NEVER BE GIVEN
MORPHINE
Abdomen
Abdominal injury to casualties in the sea can happen as a
result of underwater explosions but similar injury can be due
to explosions on board ship. The force of the explosion
damages the internal organs and causes internal bleeding,
The main features of this type of injury are:
•
shock;
•
abdominal pain;
both of which may become evident some time after the
explosion. If these conditions are found, start a pulse chart,
Treatment is that for shock and for internal bleeding.
Transportation
.
".
Unless there IS danger from fire, explosion or toxIC
.
substances, do not move a casualty until suspected fractures
'
''
'
h ave b een Immo b Il Ised an d b a d bl ee d Ing h as b een stoppe d ,
.
Then check out the best route for transport and lift the
casualty gently and carry him smoothly. Every jolt means
unnecessary pain,
The method of transport will depend on the situation of
the casualty and the nature of the injury. Whatever method
is used, try to gain the confidence of the person you are
carrying by explaining what you are about to do and then
carrying out the manoeuvre in an efficient manner,
Ordinary man-handling may be possible, in which case
two helpers carry a casualty without forming their hands
into a seat, by each using an arm to support the casualty's
back and shoulders and each using his spare hand to support
the casualty under his thighs.
If conscious, the casualty may help to support himself with
his hands on the shoulders of the helpers (Figure 1.65).
The four-handed seat can be used when a heavy person
has to be carried. The disadvantage of this type of seat is that
the casualty must be able to co-operate and to hold on with
both arms around the shoulders of the two men carrying
him. It cannot be safely used to negotiate ladcfers (Figure 1.65).
The hands should be placed as in Figure 1,66.
One advantage of the three-handed seat (Figure 1.67) is
that one arm and hand of a helper is left free and can be used
Figure 1.65 Position taken up
when man-handled, or a fourarm seat is being used; in the
.
f ormer inSta nee two arms are at
.
t h e baek 0f th e patlen t an d on Iy
·
two are un d er h ISth Ig h s.
O
either to support an injured limb or as a backsupport for the casualty. According to the nature
of the injury, it is decided which of the two helpers has the free arm (Figures 1.68 and 1.69).
The fireman's lift which should not be used unless the helper is as well built as the casualty is
especially useful when you have to move a man by yourself and need the use of your right hand
for holding on to a ladder. Roll the patient so that he is lying face downwards, lift him up so
that, when you stoop down, you can put your head under his left arm (Figure 1.70). Then put
your left arm between his legs and grasp his left hand, letting his body fall over your left
shoulder (Figure 1.71).
Steady yourself and then stand upright, at the same time shifting his weight so that he lies
well balanced across the back of your shoulders (Figure 1.72). Hold the casualty's arm above the
wrist. In this position it is easy to carry the patient up a ladder as one hand is free to grasp the rail
(Figure 1.73).
As a last resort, the drag-carry method may have to be used in narrow spaces, particularly
where there is wreckage following an explosion and where it may be possible for only one man
to reach a trapped casualty and to rescue him. After initial rescue, two men may be able to
undertake further movement through a narrow space. The method is demonstrated in Figures
1.74 and 1.75. Ensure that the casualty's wrists, which are tied together, do not interfere with
any breathing apparatus the rescuer may be wearing, and safeguard the casualty's head with a
bump hat if possible.
Neil Robertson stretcher
This particular type of stretcher is shown in Figure 1.76. It is a simple device for moving a
casualty safely from a difficult place where the ordinary stretcher with stiff poles would be
useless. Other patterns of rescue stretcher are available but all aim to achieve the same purpose.
The casualty is enveloped in a protecting but somewhat flexible case, so that he takes up as little
room as possible. The stretcher can be bent slightly in turning sharp corners in narrow passages,
as when being hoisted up the ladder ways from engine-rooms, or through the hatches of cargo
tanks.
The stretcher is made of stout canvas, stiffened by wooden slats (Figure 1.76). The portion 'P:
takes the head and neck, which are steadied by a canvas strap passing over the forehead. Thus,
the head of an unconscious patient can be steadied.
Chapter 1 FIRSTAID
The portion '8' is wrapped round the chest, notches being cut on which the armpits rest. This
part has three canv~s straps which are used for fastening the stretcher round the chest. The
portion 'D' folds round the hips and legs down to the ankles. It is secured by two canvas straps.
A central backbone of stout rope passes along the under surface. This has two beckets
passing out from it on either side which can be used as handles, for carrying the patient or for
securing tackles when he is slung horizontally.
At the head end, the rope ends in a grommet which takes extra purchase from two brass
eyelets let into the canvas. At the foot end of the rope is a galvanised iron ring which is secured
to the stretcher by a span going to brass eyelets in the canvas. When more rigidity in the
stretcher is required, as in moving those with injuries to the back, a couple ot'broom handles,
slipped through the ropes underneath, will fulfil this purpose admirably.
Some stretchers have a rope about 9 ft long fixed to the galvanised ring at the foot end. This
is a steadying rope for use in craft below, or on quay, when the patient is lowered over the side
ofthe ship. When the patient is carried about the ship, this rope can be passed under the various
straps to keep it from trailing on the deck or otherwise getting in the way.
The patient should be lifted on to and secured in the stretcher as shown in Figures 1.77 to 1.80.
Casesof fracture of the spine or other back and pelvic injuries should be transferred to the
stretcher as directed under spinal injury.
43
The patient should be carried by four men, if possible
(Figure 1.81). At difficult corners, the stretcher should be
lowered at the foot end, and the casualty passed by two of
the men to the others. The carry can then be resumed by the
four bearers.
When passing the casualty through a narrow hatch, or
lifting him up over a height, or lowering him to a boat
alongside, put the lifting hook or a rope through the
grommet at the head end and a further steadying rope
through the galvanised ring at the foot end (Figures 1.82and
1.83).
Moving an unconscious casualty
If possible, carry an unconscious casualty in the unconscious
position and always with a head-down tilt. The tilt is also
necessarywhen carrying a casualty suffering from shock or
lossof blood.
Note
More detailed information on the treatment of the effects
of specific chemicals is given in the International Maritime
Organization's Medical First Aid Guide for use in Accidents
involving Dangerous Goods (MFAG) 1994 which your ship
may be carrying.
Toxic hazards
Ships carry a number of substances other than cargo which
are potentia Ily toxic. For instance, med icines are not genera Ily
poisonous but can become so if taken in a manner not
prescribed, such as in an overdose. Then there are substances
like cleaners, degreasers and disinfectants which can give
rise to toxic hazards on their own or through misuse, e.g.
emptying a bucket of bleaching solution into a lavatory bowl
containing a proprietary caustic cleaner may result in the
release of poisonous gas in a confined space. Notes on
various specific toxic substances are given at the end of this
section. Manufacturer's data sheets also contain specific
medical advice.
Toxic substances can harm the body in three ways.
1. They may cause local burns or irritation
contact with skin or eyes.
if they come into
2. They may be absorbed into the body and cause internal
damage or systemic poisoning.
3. They may cause an allergic reaction which could be life
threatening.
Toxic substances can enter the body through
• The lungs e.g. fumes or toxic gases.
• The mouth e.g. by swallowing
• The skin and eyes.
The commonest route for a toxin to enter the body onboard
a ship is by breathing it in. The toxin may be in the form of a
vapour, gas, mist, spray, dust or fume.
Poisons are less commonly swallowed, usually by accident
during routine duties, but sometimes deliberately.
The effects of toxins are often sudden and dramatic, but
may be subtle, gradual and cumulative. The latter is especially
true of inhaled toxins or those absorbed through the skin.
Suspect that every chemical is toxic until you know
otherwise. Remember that toxins are poisonous to the
rescuer as well as the patient. TAKE ALL POSSIBLE
PRECAUTIONSTO PROTECTYOURSELF.
Prompt, safety conscious treatment can avoid many of the
complications of poisoning.
Inhaled Poisons
(See Chapter 1 for rescue from an enclosed space.)
, Many chemicals produce fumes which can irritate the lungs
and cause difficulty in breathing e.g. chlorine. This will alert
you to their presence.
46
THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Other gases have no odour .This group includes carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrogen
and some refrigerant gases.
Gasessuch as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide may also be poisonous, particularly in a
confined space, because they replace oxygen in the air and therefore in the blood.
The main symptoms of exposure are:
• difficulty
in breathing;
•
nausea, headache, dizziness;
•
confusion or even unconsciousness in severe cases.
Remember that precautions against fire and explosion may be necessary for some gases.
Treatment
•
Remove the casualty at once into the fresh air. Loosen tight clothing and ensure a clear
airway. Give oxygen if available.
•
Start artificial respiration by the mouth to nose or mouth method if breathing is absent.
The use of a Laerdal Pocket Mask (mouth to mask) is recommended for resuscitation in the
case of poisoning by solvents, hydrogen cyanide (prussic acid) or petroleum products to
avoid poisoning the rescuer. Use oxygen if available.
•
Start chest compressions if the heart has stopped.
•
In casesof hydrogen cyanide poisoning where breathing and pulse are present, break an
ampoule of amyl nitrite into a clean handkerchief or cloth and hold under the patient's
nose so that he inhales the vapour.
• SEEKRADIO MEDICAL ADVICE as specific treatment
•
may be required.
Keep the patient at rest in bed for at least 24 hours or until he has recovered.
Complications
of inhaled poisons
•
Severe difficulty
in breathing with frothy sputum (pulmonary oedema).
•
Pneumonia and bronchitis.
DO NOT GIVE MORPHINE TO A CASUALTY WHO HAS BEEN GASSED, as this will affect their
ability to breathe.
Swallowed
Poisons
Astringents
,
.. 1
Many substances will cause chemical burns to the mouth, gullet and 'stomach if swallowed.
These include bleaches and other cleaners and disinfectants, acids and alkalis and corrosives as
well as petrochemicals.
The main symptoms are blistering of the mouth, lips and tongue and pain in the chest and
stomach. The patients breath often smells of the astringent.
~
DO NOT MAKE THE CASUALTY VOMIT. If the patient is conscinu{;and in pain then he may
respond to a glass of milk. Do not give painkillers by mouth. Use suppositories or a painkilling
injection if you have any..
Other substances can cause acute abdominal pain and vomiting. Thes~ include arsenic, lead,
fungi, berries and partly decomposed food. Treat the patient by making them as comfortable as
possible, but do not make them vomit.
Drugs and Alcohol
Drugs may cause harmful effects iftaken for recreational purposes or asan overdose. An overdose
may be taken accidentally or as an attempt at deliberate self harm. Common overdoses include
Sleeping Tablets. These include Diazepam (valium), Temazepam and Nitrazepam. They cause
drowsiness and unconsciousness if taken in excess. This may last for 24 hours. The breathing
may slow down and become shallow. In severe cases it may stop. A similar picture may be seen
with some antidepressants, such as Amitriptyline, or with alcohol.
Chapter 2 TOXIC HAZARDSOF CHEMICALSINCLUDINGPOISONING
Simple painkillers such asparacetamol and aspirin are often taken as overdoses.
Paracetamol may cause abdominal pain and vomiting initially. Larger overdoses can cause
severe liver damage several days later. (Liver damage is rare below 20 tablets)
Aspirin causes vomiting, abdominal pain, ringing in the ears, rapid breathing and semiconsciousness in high doses.
Treatment
Try to discover exactly what was taken (ask the patient, look for empty packets/bottles etc.) but
do not waste time doing so in an emergency.
If the casualty is conscious, give one sachet (50g) of oral activated charcoal in 250 mls of fluid,
if available. Encourage fluids in conscious cases of aspirin overdose. SEEK RADIO MEDICAL
ADVICE.
Ifthe patient is unconscious, then put him in the recovery (unconscious) position and
•
Give artificial respiration if breathing has stopped.
•
Perform chest compressions if the heart has stopped.
•
DO NOT give anything by mouth.
•
SEEKURGENTRADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
Skin Contact
Toxic substances can affect the skin in two ways:
1. direct contact may cause redness and irritation.
In severe cases, burns to the skin can occur.
2. Absorption through the intact skin producing general symptoms such as nausea, vomiting,
drowsiness, weakness and rarely unconsciousness.
Treatment
• The contaminated
clothing and shoes should be removed immediately.
•
Wash off the chemical with copious amounts of water for at least 10 minutes. Continue for
a further 10 minutes if there is any evidence of chemicals still on the skin.
•
If a burn has occurred, see management of burns.
Eye Contact
Many substances, in particular many chemical liquids or fumes of chemicals, will produce
redness and irritation if the eyes are accidentally splashed or exposed to the fumes. Treatment
should be immediate.
Wash the substance out of the eye with copious amounts of cold fresh water as quickly as
possible, keeping the eyelids wide open. This must be done thoroughly for ten minutes. If there
is any doubt whether the chemical has been completely removed, repeat the eye wash for a
further 10 minutes. If severe pain is experienced, physical restraint to the patient may be
necessary in order to be certain of effective treatment. Read about identifying and treating
damage to the eye.
For pain, give two paracetamol tablets by mouth every four hours until the pain subsides. If
there is very severe pain use Morphine.
General notes
If you are dealing with a suicide attempt, it is your duty to do everything you can to save his life
and to guard against further attempts. The patient should not be left without an attendant.
'- You should save any remains of poison that you may find in a glass, -cup, bottle or package.
Also collect in a bowl anything that is vomited and seal in a bottle. These may help in identifying
the toxic substance and deciding further treatment after the patient has been seen by a doctor
or taken ashore.
47
48
THE SHIP CAPTAIN'S MEDICAL GUIDE
Notes on specific toxic substances
For treatment
see under inhaled poisons, swallowed poisons etc. above.
Disinfectant
poisoning
Many types of disinfectants such as carbolic acid, cresol and bleaching solutions are toxic.
Carbolic acid (phenol) and cresols cause a severe rash on contact with the skin in dilute
solutions. Strong concentrated solutions will result in painless white burns of the skin. If they
are swallowed, burns of the mouth will occur, and the casualty may have severe vomiting,
followed by collapse and unconsciousness. Convulsions can occur (see Epileptic fits).
Bleaching solutions (e.g. lavatory cleaners, etc.) are usually solutions of sodium hypochlorite
in water. These cause irritation of the skin and are poisonous if swallowed. The patient may
complain of burning in the mouth and stomach and feel generally unwell.
On contact with acids, these substances release fumes which are irritating to the lungs
causing a cough, a feeling of breathlessness and burning in the mouth. However, these
substances are not severely toxic and the symptoms usually subside rapidly.
Solvents, petroleum
products and fuel oils
These substances usually cause symptoms after the fumes have been accidentally inhaled. The
symptoms are drowsiness, dizziness, nausea and occasionally vomiting. If severe exposure
occurs, the patient may become unconscious. If they are swallowed, they usually produce the
same symptoms, but nausea and vomiting are worse.
Cyanide
Hydrogen cyanide (prussic acid) gas is used in fumigating ships. Both the solid cyanide and the
gas are extremely poisonous, and symptoms and signs may develop very rapidly. They are
corrosive either in contact with the skin or after being swallowed, causing external burns, burns
in the mouth and intense pain in the abdomen. There will be shortness of breath, anxiety and
rapid loss of consciousness. Convulsions can occur. Death may result within a few minutes.
Carbon dioxide (carbonic acid gas)
Suffocation by this odourless gas may occur while dealing with a fire in a hold. The gas is also
produced if grain in the hold ferments, and it may be generated by refrigerated cargoes of
certain foods; it is also used as a refrigerant. The gas'is heavier than air and collects in the lower
parts of holds and compartments. When exposed to it, a man has giddiness, difficulty in
breathing and headache. Later he may fall down and lose consciousness.
Carbon monoxide
This odourless gas is also produced in hold fires, as a product of an explosion, in the waste gases
of petrol and oil driven engines, and when refrigerated meat cargoes decompose. It is lighter
than air and very poisonous. In heavy concentration it is inflammable. A patient suffering from
the effects ofthis gas feels giddy, often with muscular weakness. Difficulty in breathing rapidly
develops and unconsciousness may come on quickly. In severe casesthe lips may be bright red,
and the skin of the face and body has a pink colour. Hyperbaric ox'ygen therapy may be helpful
- SEEKADVICE - consider urgent evacuation.
Refrigerant
gases
Ammonia vapour. Breathing ammonia vapour will cause intense irritation, varying from a
catching of the breath with smarting and watering of the eyes in low concentrations, up to
intense irritation and corrosion of the whole air passages, gasping for breath, collapse and
death in the case of highly concentrated vapour.
Carbon dioxide is also present in addition to ammonia. If a person becomes faint or loses
consciousness in a refrigerating plant where .there is no evidence of escaping ammonia, he is
probably suffering from the effects of this gas.
Methyl chloride is a colourless gas, smelling like ether. It may cause drowsiness, mental
confusion, coma, nausea, vomiting, convulsions and death. It is also dangerous in low
Chapter 2 TOXIC HAZARDSOF CHEMICALSINCLUDINGPOISONING
concentration owing to its explosive nature. On no account, should any naked light be exposed
in the presence of the vapour; electric motors should be stopped to avoid risk of sparking. A
heavy duty electric torch, switched on before approaching the escape, is the only safe light to
use.
Trichlorethylene - usually called trilene or 'trike' - is a volatile anaesthetic gas which causes
drowsiness, mental confusion, nausea, vomiting and coma. It can also result in death. It is used
medically as an anaesthetic because it acts quickly. In the impure form it is used as a dry cleaning
agent. Some people are addicted to 'sniffing' it. Exposure may cause palpitations, especially on
excitation. Those exposed to it should be kept in a calm environment for at least 6 hours.
Freon is an odourless and harmless gas except in a concentration high enough to deprive a
man of sufficient oxygen. The signs of oxygen deficiency are mental confusion, faintness,
staggering gait, collapse and unconsciousness.
Poisonous gases from refrigerated cargoes
Certain refrigerated cargoes including fruit, vegetables and cheese, generate carbon dioxide
during normal storage. With any failure of refrigerating plant, food cargoes (especially meat)
may generate poisonous and inflammable gases. This can be particularly dangerous if the cargo
space is flooded. Carbon monoxide, ammonia, hydrogen sulphide and hydrogen may be
generated in addition to carbon dioxide. In any great concentration these gases are extremely
poisonous and some are explosive. All precautions against fire and explosion must be taken in
addition to those against suffocation and poisoning.
49
Introduction
This section of the Guide is concerned with the care and
treatment of bed patients until they recover or are sent to
hospital for professional attention.
Good nursing is vital to the ease and speed of recovery
from any condition. Attention to detail and comfort may
make the lot of the sick or injured person much more
tolerable. Cheerful, helpful and intelligent nursing can
greatly influence the person's attitude in a positive direction
towards his illness or injury.
The nurses
A sick person needs to have confidence in his attendants who
should understand his requirements. A nurse should be
selected with care and the master or a senior officer should
check on the performance of the person chosen.
Sick quarters
Wherever possible a patient sufficiently ill to require nursing
should be in the ship's hospital or in a cabin away from others.
In this way the patient will benefit from quietness and the
risk of spreading any unknown infection will be minimised.
The sick quarters should be comfortable and easily cleaned.
The room fittings and floors should be cleaned daily.
Adequate ventilation of the sick quarters is of great
importance and it is equally important that changes of
temperature should be avoided. The ideal temperature for
the sick room is between 15.5°Cand 18.5°C. If possible, direct
sunlight should be admitted to the cabin. If the weather is
warm and the portholes will open they should be left open.
Arrival of the patient
It may be necessaryto assist the patient to undress and get
into bed. A patient with a reduced level of consciousnesswill
have to be undressed. Take off boots or shoes first, then
socks,trousers, jacket and shirt in that order.
In the case of severe leg injuries, you may have to remove
the trousers by cutting down the seams. In the case of arm
injuries, remove the arm from the shirt sleeve on the sound
side first, then slip the shirt over the head and lastly withdraw
the arm carefully from the sleeve on the injured side.
In cold climates the patient should always wear suitable
night wear. In the tropics cotton nightwear is preferable.
Blankets are unnecessary in the tropics but the patient
should have some covering, a sheet spread over him.
If your patient has a chest condition accompanied by
cough and spitting he should be provided with a receptacle,
either a sputum pot or an improvised jar or tin. The
receptacle provided should be fitted with a cover. If the
sputum pot is not of the disposable variety add a little
disinfectant. It should be thoroughly cleaned out twice daily
with boiling water and a disinfectant.
52
THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Your other duties may make it impossible for you to give uninterrupted attention to your
patient and a urine bottle should therefore be left within reach of the patient on a chair, stool
or locker, and covered with a cloth.
Food, plates, cups, knives, forks and spoons should be removed from the sick quarters
immediately after a meal and in no circumstances should they be left there except in infectious
cases. In such casesthey should be washed up in the cabin and then be stacked neatly away and
covered with a cloth.
Visitors
The patient should be protected from long and tiring visits from well-meaning shipmates. Visits
to patients who are ill and running a temperature should be restricted to 15 minutes.
Check list
•
Ensure that the person is comfortable
in bed.
•
Check temperature, pulse and respiration twice daily (morning and evening) or more often
if not in the normal range (a four-hourly check is usual in any serious illness). Document
observations.
•
In appropriate
•
Keep a written record of the illness.
casestest a specimen of urine and document.
• Arrange that soft drinks are easily available unless fluids are to be restricted. No alcohol.
•
Specify normal diet or any dietary restrictions.
•
Ensure that the person knows to ask for a bottle or a bedpan as needed - some do not
unless told.
•
Check and record if bowels have moved or not.
•
Check fluid-in and fluid-out by asking the person questions about drinking and passing
urine. In certain illnesses a fluid chart must be kept.
•
Check that the person is eating.
•
Re-make the bed at least twice a day or more often if required to keep the person
comfortable. Look out for crumbs and creases, both of which can be uncomfortable.
• Try to avoid boredom by suitable reading and hobby material. A radio and/or TV will also
help to provide interest for the patient.
• A means of summoning other people, such as a bell, telephone or intercom should be
available if the person cannot call out and be heard, or if the person is not so seriously ill as
to require somebody to be with him at all times.
•
Ensure patient safety.
The body temperature
The body temperature, pulse rate and respiration should be recorded. Yqu should make use of
your temperature charts, or if no more charts are available, then your findings should be written
down, together with the hour at which they were noted. These readings should be taken twice
a day and always at the same hours, and more frequently if the patient is seriously ill.
It will rarely be necessary to record the temperature at more frequent intervals than fourhourly. The only exceptions to this rule are in cases of severe head injury, acute abdominal
conditions and hyperpyrexia when more frequent temperature recordings are required.
Chapter 3 GENERALNURSING
The body temperature is measured by using a clinical thermometer, except in hypothermia
when a low reading thermometer must be used. To take the temperature, first shake down
the mercury in a clinical thermometer to about 35°(, Then place the thermometer in the
person's mouth, under the tongue. The thermometer should remain in the mouth with the lips
closed - no speaking -for at least 1 minute. After 1 minute, read the thermometer, then replace
it in the patient's mouth for a further minute. Check the reading and if it reads the same,
record the temperature on the chart. Repeat the process if it is different. Then disinfect the
thermometer.
Sometimes it will be necessaryto take the temperature per rectum, e.g. hypothermia. In that
case, first lubricate the thermometer with Vaseline. Then, with the patient lying on his side,
push the thermometer gently into the rectum for a distance of 5 cm and leave for 2 minutes
before reading it. Do not usethe same thermometer as is used in the mouth.
People who are unconscious, restless or possibly drunk should not have their mouth
temperatures taken in case they chew the thermometer. These people should have their
temperature taken by placing the thermometer in the armpit and holding the arm into the side
for 2 minutes before the thermometer is read.
The normal body temperature is 36.9°Celsius (centigrade) and lies in the range 36.3 to
37.2°(, Temperature taken in the armpit is '12°C lower, and in the rectum 'hoC higher. In good
health, variations in temperature are slight.
Body temperature is raised, and fever is said to be present, in infectious conditions and in a
few disorders which affect the heat regulating mechanism in the brain.
Centigrade (Celsius)
Fatal (as a rule)
43.3
42.8
42.2
Dangerous Fever
41.7
41.1
High Fever
40.6
40.0
39.4
38.9
Moderate Fever
38.3
37.8
Healthy Temperature
37.2
36.7
36.1
35.6
Hypothermia
35.0 and below
In feverish illnessesthe body temperature risesand then falls to normal. At first the person may
feel cold and shivery. Then he looks and feels hot, the skin is flushed, dry and warm and the
patient becomes thirsty. He may suffer from headache and may be very restless. The
temperature may still continue to rise. Finally the temperature falls and the person may sweat
profusely, becoming wet through. As this happens, he may need a change of clothing and
bedding.
During the cold stage, the person should have one or two warm blankets put around him to
keep him warm but too many blankets may help to increase his temperature. As he reaches the
hot stage, he should be given cool drinks, not alcohol.
If the temperature risesabove 40°C sponging or even a cool bath may be required to prevent
further rise of temperature or reduce it. In the sweating stage the clothing and bedding should
be changed.
53
54
THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
The pulse rate
The pulse rate isthe number of heart beats per minute. The pulse isfelt at the wrist, or the heart
rate is counted by listening to the heartbeat over the nipple on the left side of the chest. The
pulse rate varies with age, sex and activity. The pulse rate is increased normally by exercise and
excitement; it is decreased by sleep and to a lesserextent by relaxation and some drugs.
Pulse rates of 120 and above can be counted more easily by listening over the heart.
Normal resting pulse rate (number of heartbeats per minute)
Age 2 to 5
About 100
Age 5 to 10
About 90
Adults, male
65 to 80
Adults, female
75 to 85
The pulse rate will usually rise about 10 beats per minute for every 0.5°C over 38°(, In heart
disease and shock, a high pulse rate may be found with a normal temperature.
Note and record also whether the pulse beat is regular or irregular, i.e. whether there are the
same number of beats in each 15 seconds and whether the strength of each beat is about the
same.
If the rhythm is very irregular, count the pulse at the wrist and also count the pulse by
listening over the heart. The rates may be different because weak heartbeats will be heard, but
the resulting pulse wave may not be strong enough to be felt. Count for a full minute in each
case.
The respiration rate
The respiration rate will often give you a clue to the diagnosis of the case.
The rate is the number of times per minute that the patient breathes in. It is counted by
watching the number of inspirations per minute. This count should be made without the
patient's knowledge by continuing to hold the wrist as if taking the pulse. If the patient is
conscious of what you are doing, the rate is liable to be irregular. A good plan is to take the
respiration rate immediately after taking the pulse.
The respiration rate varies with age, sex and activity. It is increased normally by exercise,
excitement and emotion; it is decreased by sleep and rest.
Normal resting respiration rate (number of breaths per minute)
Age 2 to 5
28 - 24
5 to Adult
24 - 18
Adult, male
18-16
Adult, female
20 - 18
Always count respirations for a full minute, noting any discomfort in breathing in or out.
The pulse rate will usually rise about 4 beats per minute for every rise of 1 respiration per
minute. This 4:1 ratio will be altered in chest diseasessuch as pneumonia or asthma which can
cause a great rise in respiration rate.
56
THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Bed baths
Patients who are confined to bed should be washed all over
at least every day. If they are hot, sticky, and feverish, they
should be washed at least twice a day. Wash the patient,
beginning at the head. If the patient is well enough, he
should wash his own face and genital area; otherwise the
attendants should do this. Wash and dry one part of the body
at a time so that the patient is not uncovered all at once.
When you have finished washing the patient, lightly dust
pressure areas and skin creases with talc.
The bed linen should be changed as frequently
as
necessary, it is much easier using 2 attendants.
Mouth care
Make sure that plenty of drinks are available to prevent
dryness and that facilities for brushing teeth and dentures
are made available twice a day.
Very ill patients or unconscious patients should have poor
fitting dentures removed. The inside of the cheeks, the
gums, the teeth and the tongue should be swabbed with
dilute glycerine of thymol on a cotton bud, or other suitable
material. If the lips are dry, apply Vaseline/petroleum jelly
thinly to these areas. This procedure should be repeated as
often as is necessary to keep the areas moist.
Feeding patients in bed
People who are ill or injured may not feel much like eating.
They may also have to be encouraged to drink plenty to
prevent dehydration. So, always try to find out what the
person would like to eat or drink and give him what he wants
if you possibly can. Food should also be presented as
attractively as possible on a suitable tray. Special diets, when
they are prescribed, must be strictly followed. If a weak
patient spills food or drink, use towels or sheeting to keep
patient and bedding as clean as possible. If they have
difficulty in swallowing, soft food only should be given.
Figure 3.1 Moving a patient in
bed - always use two helpers,
who bend their legs not their
backs.
The bed
The bed should be made up and the linen changed at regular intervals. Remember that creases
can be most uncomfortable and can cause bedsores. If the patient is gravely ill, incontinent or
likely to sweat excessively, use a waterproof sheet covered by a draw sheet across the bottom
sheet.
If the patient has a fracture or finds the weight of his bedding to be uncomfortable, you can
support the bedding with one or more bed cradles. These can be improvised from a topless
wooden box by removing the two shorter (or longer) sides and then inverting it. The cradle
goes over the affected part of the patient and the bedding rests on top of the cradle.
Patients who cannot get up can have their bed linen changed by rolling them gently to one side
of the bed and untucking the used linen on the unoccupied side. It is then rolled up and placed
against the patient. Clean linen is then tucked .under the mattress and its outer edge rolled up
and placed beside the roll of used linen. The patient can then be very gently rolled over to the
clean side of the bed and the job completed. The same technique can be applied, but on an end
to end basis, for patients who have to be nursed in a seated position. If the patient is told what
you are doing, as you do it, he will know what to expect and will probably co-operate as far as
he can. A freshened bed is a comfort to most sick people. Bed making and changing an occupied
bed requires two people; it is easier if the bed·can be in the centre of the cabin. (Figure 3.1).
Bed sores
Anyone in bed is constantly prone to bed sores (pressure
sores) unless preventative action is taken. Unconscious
patients and the incontinent are at risk of bed sores.
Frequent change of posture, day and night, with, in the case
of the incontinent, thorough washing and drying will be
required.
Prevention of pressure sores begins by making the person
comfortable in bed. Choose a good mattress, keep the
sheets taut and smooth. Keep the skin clean and dry. Turning
should be done by two or preferably more people. Begin by
lifting the person up a little from the bed. Then roll him over
slowly and gently.
Figure 3.2 shows the sites on the body where pressure
sores may occur. Pillows and other padding can be used to
relieve pressure as indicated in the Figure. Wash pressure
areas gently and, when dry, dust lightly with talc.
58
THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Incontinence
Incontinence (urinary and/or faecal) may occur with conscious or unconscious patients. It is
acutely embarrassing to conscious patients and they should be re-assured. They must be kept
clean. Check the patient frequently.
Collect together all the things which will be necessary to leave the patient in a clean, dry
condition, Le.:
•
soap and warm water;
•
toilet paper, cotton wool;
•
towels;
•
talcum powder;
•
clean bed linen;
•
a change of clothing/pyjamas;
•
a plastic bag for soiled tissues;
•
a plastic bag for foul linen/clothing.
Clean up with toilet paper. Then wash the soiled areas with cotton wool, soap and water. When
the patient has been cleaned, dry him thoroughly by patting. Then dust lightly with talcum
powder and remake the bed with clean linen.
If the patient can walk about it may help to assist him into a bath or shower for cleaning up.
If a male patient is incontinent of urine place his penis in a urine bottle.
Bodily functions of bed patients
Where the condition of the patient warrants, and if the toilet or a suitable commode is
available, it is always better to use these facilities. Privacy is important. The attendant should
remain within hearing. Very ill patients may require support or assistance with the bed-pan.
Appliances must be emptied immediately and thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. All faeces,
urine, vomit, or sputum, should be inspected and a record kept of the amount, colour,
consistency, and smell; in some instances it may be necessary to retain samples or to make tests.
Bowel movement in illness
This often worries people. There is no need for the bowels to move every day, nor may it be
unhealthy if the bowels do not move for a week and the person feels perfectly well. In illness,
food intake is often restricted and, on the basis of less in, less out, bowel motions will not be
expected to follow their normal pattern and will probably become lessfrequent.
Examination of faeces
The bowel habits of patients vary in frequency and character so it is important to establish
what is normal for each patient before drawing conclusions from an inspection of the faeces.
Constipation should be avoided as this can be very uncomfortable for the patient.
Abnormalities
Common abnormalities to be looked for are blood, pus, slime (mucus), diminished bile pigment
content, and worms.
Blood. Black, tarry faeces either formed or fluid but always of offensive odour, indicate
bleeding from the stomach or high up in the intestines. The blood has been altered by the
digestive process (known as malaena)
Bright red blood suggests an abnormal condition of the lower bowel, rectum or anus.
Haemorrhoids (piles) are the most common cause ofthis type of bleeding but such casesshould
be referred to a doctor, when convenient, to exclude more serious causes.
Slimy faeces occur mainly in acute or chronic infections of the large bowel, but irritation of the
bowel lining from any cause can also produce excess mucus.
Chapter 3 GENERALNURSING
Bile pigment. Pale, putty-coloured faeces caused by a diminished bile content are associated
with some liver, pancreas or gall bladder diseases.
Thread worms look like white threads 0.5 to 1 cm in length which can often be seen wriggling
about in recently passed faeces.
Round worms resemble earth worms measuring 15 to 20 cm in length and can similarly be seen
in recently passed faeces.
Tape worms, the longest of the different varieties can measure 15 metres in length. The body is
segmented and flat. Short lengths may break off and be passed in the faeces. The full length is
seen only when passed after effective treatment which should be under medical supervision.
Effect of certain diseases
Acute bacillary dysentery. In severe cases up to thirty bowel actions in 24 hours may occur with
much slime and blood in the faeces.
Amoebic dysentery. There is often a long history of passing bulky, offensive faeces streaked
with blood and mucus.
Cholera. Diarrhoea is frequent and profuse. In severe cases quarts of odourless, watery fluid
containing shreds of mucus, the so-called rice water motion, are passed daily.
Typhoid (Enteric). Constipation during the first week may be followed by frequent diarrhoea
resembling pea soup.
Testing the urine
In certain illnesses, the urine is found to contain abnormal constituents when the appropriate
tests are performed. The tests which are described in this section may help you to differentiate
between one illness and another if you are in doubt about the diagnosis.
The urine should always be tested:
•
if any person is ill enough to be confined to bed;
•
ifthe symptoms are suggestive of an abdominal complaint;
•
if the symptoms are suggestive of disease of the urinary system, e.g. pain on passing urine;
or
•
if there is some trouble of the genital area.
A"IItests must be made on an uncontaminated specimen. In males, if there is any discharge from
the penis or from behind the foreskin, or in females if there is a vaginal discharge, the genitalia
should be washed with soap and water and dried on a paper towel or tissue before passing
urine.
Urine glasses or other collecting vessels should be washed with detergent solution or with
soap and water and must be rinsed at least three times in fresh water to remove all traces of
detergent or of soap. False positive results to the tests will be given if these precautions are not
taken.
Examine and test the urine immediately after it has been passed as false results may occur if
stale urine is tested.
First examine the appearance of the urine. Hold the urine glass towards a source of light so
that the light shines through it. Note the colour and whether the urine is crystal clear, slightly
cloudy or definitely hazy (turbid). Note any odour present such as acetone or ammonia. A fishy
smell is often found in urinary infections.
Normal urine varies from a pale straw to quite a dark yellow colour. In concentrated urine it
becomes brownish in colour. Orange or 'smoky' co loured urine is usually due to blood in small
amounts. Greater quantities of blood turn the urine red and cloudy and small clots may be seen.
The urine may be the colour of strong tea or even slightly greenish in persons who are
jaundiced. Persistent cloudiness is usually due to protein in the urine and can be found in
urinary infections.
t.
Test reagents
Simple and reliable Stick tests are available in the medical stores for urine testing - for sugar,
ketones, blood and protein, either as separate sticks or a single multi-reagent stick.
The reagent is attached to the plastic stick which is dipped into the urine.
59
60
THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICAL GUIDE
The tests should be done in the following
way.
•
remove a test strip from its container. Do not touch the test end with your fingers.
•
replace the cap of the container at once and screw it on firmly; otherwise the remaining
strips will become useless.
•
dip the test end into the urine briefly and shake off any excess.
•
read off any colour change in the test area by comparing it with the standard colours on
the container at the specified times.
•
make a note of the date, time and the result of the test in the patient's notes.
NOTE: Urine should be free from blood, sugar and protein. However in some young healthy
persons, protein may be found on testing their urine when they are up and about during the
day, but it should not occur in a 'first morning' specimen passed after a night in bed. Where
protein is found in a young person's urine, the patient should empty his bladder before he goes
to bed and a specimen should be passed immediately on rising in the morning. If there is no
protein in this specimen, the presence of protein in other specimens taken during the day is of
no significance. A similar condition can arise with sugar, but there is no test available on board
which can differentiate this from diabetes. If sugar is present in the urine, the patient should be
treated as a diabetic until proved otherwise.
Examination of vomited matter
Always inspect any vomited matter, because it may be helpful in arriving at a diagnosis. Note its
colour, consistency, odour and approximate amount.
In cases of suspected poisoning, vomited matter should be put in a suitable receptacle,
covered with an airtight lid. It should then be labelled and stored in a cool place to be available
at any subsequent investigation.
Vomit may contain:
•
Partly digested food.
•
Bile causing the vomit to be yellow or yellow-green
•
Blood. This may indicate the presence of a gastric ulcer or growth in the stomach, but it
may also occur after severe straining from retching, as in seasickness, or as a complication
of enlargement of the liver. The blood may be dark in colour, and resemble 'coffee grounds'
if it has been retained in the stomach for any length of time. See also 'Note' in Section on
sputum below.
•
Faecal material. A watery brown fluid with the odour of faeces may be found in advanced
casesof intestinal obstruction when there is a reverse flow of the intestinal contents.
in colour.
Examination of sputum
The quantity and type of any sputum should be noted, and the presence of any blood in it
should always be particularly recorded.
• clear and slimy sputum suggests chronic bronchitis.
•
thick yellow or green colour suggests acute or chronic respiratory illnes ..
•
rust colour is due to the presence of small quantities of blood and may occur in pneumonia.
•
frothy sputum is characteristic of pulmonary oedema and can be white or pink in colour.
•
frothy bright red sputum is associated with Itmg injury.
NOTE: Remember always in suspected cases of spitting blood (and also of vomiting blood) to
inspect carefully the mouth and throat in a good light, and make the patient blow his nose.
Coughing and vomiting blood are not common conditions, whereas slight bleeding from the
gums and nose is, and an anxious and nervous patient may easily mislead the unwary.
Chapter 3 GENERALNURSING
Breathing difficulties
Patients who have difficulty in breathing will be most comfortable half sitting up, either lying
back or leaning forward with their forearms and elbows supported on a bed-table with pillows.
Fluid balance
The body has self-regulating
fluid out.
mechanisms to maintain a normal balance between fluid in and
Fluid in
In a healthy individual, the average daily intake of the fluids from food and drink is about 2.5litres.
In temperate climates it is possible to manage for a short time on as little as 1 litre Gust under
2 pints). In hot climates where there is a large fluid loss through sweating, an intake of 6 litres
per day may be necessary.
Fluid out
Body fluid is lost through unseen perspiration, the breath, the urine and the faeces. At least
2.5 litres of fluid will be lost a day as follows, in a healthy individual.
litres
Unseen perspiration
0.5
Breath
0.4
Urine
1.5
Faeces
0.1
2.5
To this figure
climates.
must be added any loss through
obvious sweating. This can be high in hot
Measuring fluid imbalance
In any illness where fluid balance is likely to be a problem, ego where diarrhoea and vomiting
are a feature, a fluid chart recording the amount of fluid in and fluid out should be started at
once as an aid to you and to the radio medical doctor. The quantity of fluid in and the fluid out
should be added up separately every 12 hours and the totals compared. The information in the
final column of the record should include as much detail as possible including, where relevant,
the duration and the intensity ofthe fluid loss (e.g. very sweaty for one hour). It will normally be
translatable into specific quantities only by a doctor to whom it will be useful.
A normal fluid balance can generally be assumed ifthe fluid out by way of urine and vomit
plus 1 to 1.5 litres equals the fluid in.
Excessive loss of fluid (dehydration)
Dehydration may occur in any patient sweating profusely or suffering from diarrhoea,
vomiting, blood loss or burns of areas exceeding about 10% of the body surface. Uncontrolled
diabetes can also be a cause of dehydration. Diarrhoea and vomit both have a high fluid
content which should be measured or assessedas to the amount and the extent to which it is
liquid. Anyone who suffers from either or both will require a high fluid intake to maintain fluid
balance. In illnesses where the fluid taken by mouth is vomited back it may be necessary to give
fluids per rectum as it may also be for certain unconscious patients.
~ In these cases a fluid intake and output chart must be used. Signs of dehydration include
e>tcessivethirst, high temperature for a long time, dry skin, lack-lustre eyes, dry mouth, lips
and tongue, and dark concentrated urine passed infrequently, if in small quantities. Ask a
61
62
THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
dehydrated patient what he would like to drink and grant him any reasonable, non-alcoholic
request. Cool citric fruit juices, sweetened with sugar or glucose, are nourishing.
In conditions, such as heat illnesses, when salt is lost with the sweat, and cholera where
profuse diarrhoea occurs and salts are lost from the bowel, salt replacement is necessary.Give
re-hydration solution or 1 level teaspoonful of common salt in 112 litre of water, at first in small
quantities, repeated frequently.
Giving fluids per rectum
To give fluids per rectum, the patient should lie down on his side with his buttocks raised on two
pillows and you should passa lubricated catheter (26 Charriere or French gauge) through the
anus into the rectum for a distance of about 23 cm. The catheter can be lubricated with
petroleum jelly (Vaseline). Next, tape the end of the catheter to the skin with the end in a
convenient position to attach to a tube and drip set (Figure 3.4). Give 200 ml of water slowly
through the tube, taking about 10 to 15 minutes to drip the water in. This amount will usually
be retained. Leave the catheter in position and block its
end with a spigot, or small cork, or compression clip.
Give the patient a further 200 ml of water every 4 hours.
This should give a fluid intake of about 1,200 ml (1 litre) per
day. It isworth trying to increase the amount given on each
occasion to 250 ml and to give this every 3 to 3112 hours,
particularly if the weather is warm and the patient is
sweating. However, if any overflow occurs the amount
given must be reduced. The rectum will not retain large
amounts of fluid and fluid must be retained in order to be
absorbed. Occasionally the rectum will not accept fluid
readily, especially if it is loaded with faeces. Smaller
quantities at more frequent intervals should be tried in
these cases. Careful observation will show whether the
fluid is being retained and whether or not the patient is
being rehydrated. Aim to give at least 1 litre of fluid per
day if possible.
Serious mental illness
Certain guiding principles must be borne in mind when dealing with any patient who, in the
opinion of the Master, is of unsound mind.
Every such case should be considered to be, actually or potentially suicidal or homicidal. All
possible steps must therefore be taken to have a constant watch kept on the patient.
Should the Master deem it necessaryto place the patient under supervision and/or restraint,
then the patient should if possible be housed in a single-berth cabin. The cabin should be
checked for safety to make sure it contains nothing that the patient might harm himself on, e.g.
mirrors, stools or chairs, plastic bags or unprotected light bulbs. Supervision is necessarywhen
water is used in the cabin.
Cutlery should only be allowed under strict supervision and it is advisable to use plastic or
paper crockery. No razors, matches or weapons such as knives should be left in the patient's
possession.The patient should be encouraged to drink plenty of fluids as there is a real risk of
dehydration. The patient should be persuaded to undress and put on clothing that has no
pockets. A search can be made for potential weapons or hidden medication. Braces, belts and
cords should be removed.
A checklist of all the patient's property should be recorded for future reference, to avoid
disputes.
The cabin door must be able to be firmly s~cured. The disturbed patient, however, may
become distressed if he knows he is locked in. Care should be taken to make sure he cannot lock
himself in. Any port must be firmly secured and the key removed. It is useful if there is safety
glass or window or ventilator in the door, so that the patient can be observed, especially before
entering the cabin. It is better for only one person to enter the cabin, but a second person
should be nearby in caseassistance is required.
Chapter 3 GENERALNURSING
The patient should be accompanied by two people if going out on
deck. Remember the ship's side is always very near, and if the patient
does go over the side the lives of others will be at risk during the rescue
attempt.
Many of the patients may have delusions of persecution by their
shipmates. The person caring for the patient should be calm, polite
and firm, in an attempt to gain the patient's co-operation and trust.
Restraint should not be used unless absolutely necessary, as this could
aggravate and distress the patient even more.
It is worthwhile
remembering that a paraguard or Neil Robertson stretcher can act as a
useful restraint when dealing with a seriously disturbed patient.
Unconsciousness
Careful nursing of unconscious people is a demanding, difficult and
very important task. The survival and eventual condition of anyone
who is unconscious depends greatly on your care, skill and attention.
The 3 MUSTS for Unconscious Patients
•
MUST have a clear airway;
•
MUST be kept in the unconscious position;
•
MUST NEVERbe left alone.
Keeping a clear airway is essential and requires the patient to be
kept in the unconscious position. A Guedel airway (Figure 3.5) can be
used. Any blood, vomit or other secretions from the mouth must be
mopped out or removed by the use of a sucker. Unconscious patients
must never be left alone in case they move, vomit, have a fit or fall out
of their bed.
Airway insertion
An airway (Figure 3.5A) should be inserted if a patient is breathing on
his own but is doing so with great difficulty. The function ofthe airway
is to ensure a clear passage between the lips and the back of the throat.
Normally use size 4 for adult males, size 1 for small children, and size 3
for others.
First remove any dentures and suck or swab out any blood or vomit
which is in the mouth to get a clear airway. Then, with the head fully
back, slide the airway gently into the mouth with the outer curve of
the airway towards the tongue. This operation will be facilitated if the
airway is wetted (Figure 3.5B).
If you notice any attempt by the patient to gag, retch or vomit, it is
better not to proceed with the insertion of the airway. If necessary, try
again later to insert it.
Continue to slide the airway in until the flange ofthe airway reaches
the lips. Now rotate the airway through 180°C so thatthe outer curve is
upwards to the roof of the mouth (Figure 3.5C).
Bring the jaw upwards and push the airway in until the flange at the
end of the airway is outside the teeth (or gums) and inside the lips.
Check that the casualty's breath is coming through the airway.
Continue to keep the jaws upwards and the head fully back so that the
airway will be held in place by the teeth or gums and by its shape.
'
As the patient regains consciousness, he will spit out the airway;
keep him in the unconscious position and under constant observation
until he is fully conscious. If he relapses into unconsciousness it may be
necessary to re-insert the airway if his breathing is difficult.
63
64
THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Diagnosis of unconsciousness
As soon as the patient has been put to bed in the unconscious position, assessthe circumstances
leading to the incident of unconsciousness. Find out all you can from any witness of the
occurrence and question close associates on the recent state of health of the patient.
Assess and treat any obvious cause such as a head injury. If patient is unconscious with an
injury assume neck is also injured. Otherwise, undress the patient taking care to maintain a
clear air passage during the process. Make a general head to toe examination of the patient.
Using the information you have collected and the results of your examination, consult the
table and try to identify the cause of the unconsciousness. The following may assist in
distinguishing between the main causes.
Fainting
A simple faint will rarely cause difficulty. The patient has usually recovered consciousness within
several minutes and he will feel back to normal shortly without any after effects.
Brain concussion
This is usually caused by a direct blow on the head but, sometimes may be caused by a fall from
a height even when there has been no direct injury. It could vary in severity from feeling dazed
and shaky for a few minutes to, in very severe cases, unconsciousness lasting for hours or even
days.
Brain compression
Compression should be suspected if unconsciousness comes on gradually after a head injury,
or, if a casualty who has recovered consciousness after a head injury lapses again into
unconsciousness.
Epilepsy
The irregular jerking movements of the limbs will have stopped before the casualty has been
taken to the ship's hospital. In a single fit these jerking movements will not recur - the patient
usually has a history of fits.
Stroke
The presence of paralysis of a limb or limbs on one side of the body should, in the absence of a
head injury, point to this cause.
Alcohol abuse
The history obtained from witnesses or close associates will give an indication of the amount of
alcohol consumed.
Although a casualty's breath may smell of alcohol, his unconsciousness may not be caused by it.
He may for example have sustained a head injury in a fall when drunk.
Diabetic coma
There is usually a history of the casualty feeling unwell for two or three days before the onset
of unconsciousness.
The characteristic smell of the breath is very helpful.
Chapter 3 GENERALNURSING
The general management of an unconscious patient
Make sure that an unconsciouspatient cannot injure himself further. Some unconscious and
semi-conscious patients can be quite violent, or can move about suddenly, so ensure that they
cannot fall onto the floor or hit themselves against any hard edge or surface. A bed with sides
will probably be the safest place. Do not put pillows or other padding where the patient might
suffocate. Remove any jewellery - rings and earrings in particular.
The person must be turned from one side to the other at least every 3 hours to prevent
bedsores, this requires 2 people. Turn the patient gently and roll him smoothly from one side to
the other. The head must always be kept back with a chin-up position when actually turning,
and at no time must the head be allowed to bend forwards with the chin sagging. This is both
to help to keep a clear airway and to prevent neck injuries. If you suspect a broken jaw or that
the person has fallen from a height and may have a neck or spine injury, you should be extra
specially careful during turning.
Check the breathing and that the Guedel airway is securely in place as soon as you have
turned the person.
Make sure that all joints are neither fully straight nor fully bent. Ideally they should all be
kept in mid-position. Place pillows under and between the bent knees and between the feet
and ankles. Use a bed-cage (a large stiff box will make a good improvised cage) to keep the
bedclothes from pressing on the feet and ankles. Check that elbows, wrists and fingers are in a
relaxed mid-position after turning. Do not pull, strain or stretch any joint at any time. Make
quite sure that the eyelids are closed and that they remain closed at all times, otherwise
preventable damage to the eyeball can easily occur. Irrigate the eyes every 2 hours by opening
the lids slightly and dripping some saline solution gently into the corner of each eye in such a
way that the saline will run across each eye and drain from the other corner. A saline solution
can be made by dissolving one level teaspoonful of salt in'/z litre of boiled water which has been
allowed to cool.
After 12 hours of unconsciousness further problems will arise. Unconscious people must be
given nothing by mouth in case it chokes them. However, after 12 hours of unconsciousness
fluid will have to be given, particularly in hot climates and/or if the patient is obviously
sweating. Because fluids cannot be given by mouth the fluid should be given per rectum. An
input/output chart will be necessary and the instructions given under fluid balance should be
followed. The mouth, cheeks, tongue and teeth should be moistened every 3 to 4 hours using a
small swab moistened with glycerine of thymol. Carry out mouth care every time the person is
turned.
After 48 hours of unconsciousness move each limb joint at least once a day providing other
considerations such as fracture do not prevent this. They should be moved very gently in such a
way as to put each joint through a full range of movement. Do the job systematically. Begin on
the side of the patient which is most accessible. Start with the fingers and thumb, then move the
wrist, the elbow and the shoulder. Now move the toes, the foot and the ankle. Then bend the
knee and move the hip around. Next, turn the patient, if necessary, with the help of another
person, and move the joints on the other side.
Remember that unconscious patients may be very relaxed and floppy - so do not let go of
their limbs until you have placed the limb safely back on the bed. Hold the limbs firmly but not
tightly and do everything slowly and with the utmost gentleness. Take your time in moving
each joint fully before going on to the next.
65
66
THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Injections
Injections are used when rapid absorption is desired, or
when the patient cannot or will not swallow a drug, or is
vomiting, or the action of the medication would be
destroyed by secretions of the stomach or intestine. They
can be given under the skin or into a muscle. Before a
patient is given an injection he should be asked whether
he is allergic to it. If a patient is unconscious you will not
be able to ask about allergies.
Subcutaneous (under the skin)
The site of subcutaneous injections is the fleshy part of the
outer arm just below the shoulder. To make the injection,
the skin should be grasped between the thumb and
forefinger, and the injection is made by inserting the
needle 1 cm under the skin surface (Figure 3.7). The
maximum effect of the injection usually occurs in about 30
minutes.
Intramuscular (into a muscle)
Medications injected intramuscularly are absorbed more
quickly than those given subcutaneously. A maximum
effect is obtained in about 15 minutes.
Only two sites are recommended for intramuscular
injections. These are the outer side of the middle third of
the thigh and the upper outer quarter of the buttock.
Great care must be taken to give the injection exactly into
the correct site to avoid bone, nerves etc. (Figures 3.8 and
3.9).
If it is impossible to use either of the above sites use the
deltoid muscle (upper outer third of the arm) taking care
not to hit the bone (Figure 3.10).
Give the injection at right angles to the skin and insert
the needle for about 3 centimetres (Figure 3.11).
If you have to give more than one injection, the others
must be confined to the areas shown in the Figures but try
and alternate between the four sites.
Filling a syringe
Drugs for injection are supplied in either rubber capped
vials or in glass ampoules. The name and strength and
expiry date of the drug is always marked on the vial. Check
this carefully, using a magnifying glass if necessary. If no
name is visible or it is indecipherable, that vial should be
discarded.
Glass ampoules (Figure 3.14(a» have a coloured
band round the neck at which the top of the ampoule will
break off cleanly - use a tissue to break. The rubber cap
(Figure 3.14(b» of the other type of vial is held on by a
metal cap. A small tear-off seal may have to be removed
before the rubber becomes visible. The tear-off seal should
not be removed before the drug is required.
Plastic syringes are supplied either with needles
attached or with the needles in separate plastic
containers. These pre-sterilised syringes and needles are
disposable and must be used once only.
68
THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Before giving an injection, prepare:
• The correct drug in its container, either an ampoule or a rubber capped vial.
• A disposable syringe and needle.
• Antiseptic swab.
Wash your hands thoroughly.
Take the glass ampoule and check that the name, dose and expiry date on the vial is that of the
drug which you want to give. Ensure that all the liquid is in the ampoule below the neck by
gently tapping the neck region with a finger.
Wrap the ampoule in a swab and gently and firmly break off the top. Make sure that you
point the ampoule away from your eyes.
Set the ampoule down and open the syringe following the direction on the package.
Remove the syringe and needle, leave the needle cover on until you are ready to use it. If the
needle is separate, open the needle case first, leave the needle in the case. Next open the
syringe packet and insert the syringe into the needle pressing it down firmly. The needle can
then be removed from its sheath. Do not touch the needle shaft at any time. The ampoule is
then held in one hand and the syringe and needle in the other. Slightly tilt the ampoule, insert
the needle without touching the glass at the opening and draw the liquid into the barrel of the
syringe by gently pulling on the plunger. Be careful that you do not push the tip of the needle
on to the bottom ofthe ampoule. This will blunt the needle and make the injection difficult and
painful (Figure 3.15).
When the ampoule is empty, withdraw the needle and point it upwards. Tap the barrel of the
syringe to ensure that all air comes up to the surface ofthe liquid, then press the plunger gently
to expel the air. A small bead of liquid will appear at the tip of the needle when this has been
accomplished. If it is necessary to give lessthan the full dose, keep on pressing the plunger until
the required volume registers on the scale on the barrel (Figure 3.16).
Penicillin in powder
To reconstitute benzylpenicillin 600 mg you will also require a 2 ml ampoule of water for
injection.
Prepare a syringe as in the section above, leaving the cover on the needle.
Open an ampoule of the water and, removing the cover from the needle, draw up all the
water into the syringe. Replace the cover until you have swabbed the rubber cap of the
penicillin vial/bottle with antiseptic swab; then insert the needle through the rubber cap, and
depress the plunger to inject the water onto the penicillin (Figure 3.17).
'
Withdraw the needle, replace the needle cover over it and lay the syringe and needle on the
clean towel in a safe place.
Gently shake the vial so that the penicillin is dissolved in the water. Re-swab the rubber cap,
allow the spirit to dry, insert the needle just through the rubber cap and invert the vial. The
penicillin can now be withdrawn from the vial into the syringe. Then go through the procedure
described above to get rid ofthe air before proceeding with the injection (Figure 3.16).
NOTES:
If you need to give only 300 mg of benzylpencillin, reconstitute 600 mg asabove and draw-up 1 ml
for immediate use: the balance can be stored for up to 12 hours in the non-freezing section of a
refrigerator. (1 ampoule for 1 patient)
Giving the injection
Before giving the injection cleanse the skin with antiseptic swab. Then plunge the needle into
the site selected in accordance with the advice gb/en above. Draw back the plunger and look for
blood coming into the syringe from a blood vessel. Do not inject if blood comes in, but partially
withdraw the needle and reinsert it at a different angle, draw back the plunger and check again
for blood ..
If no blood appears, give the injection slowly. Then remove the needle and massage the area
gently. Safe disposal of needle and syringe is important to avoid sharps injuries to you and
others. Do not re-sheath a needles which has been used to give an injection.
This chapter is about the care and treatment, after first-aid, of a
casualty who has been moved to the ship's hospita I or to hisown
cabin, ie. the definitive treatment of injuries sustained onboard.
Cleanliness and sterilising.
To prevent infection in wounds, burns and other conditions,
all dressings and instruments should be sterile. Dressings
should be supplied pre-packed and sterilised. There are two
ways of obtaining sterile instruments:
• The instruments or equipment can be obtained in
pre-packed sterilised containers. Such instruments are for
once-only use and are disposable. Disposable equipment
is very convenient to use.
•
Instruments, which are not disposable, should be
sterilised just before use in a steriliser or by boiling in
water for not lessthan 10 minutes, then allowed to cool.
In using any instrument, the patient, or 'business', end ofthe
instrument must not touch anything before use a.nd only the
operator should handle the operator parts of the instrument.
The attendant should similarly guard against infecting the
wound:
•
Sleeves should be rolled-up.
•
Hands, wrists and forearms should be thoroughly
washed, with soap and running water.
•
Surgical latex (rubber) gloves should be worn to protect
both the operator and the patient.
General Care of wounds
Classification of wounds
Wounds vary enormously in extent and depth, depending on
. how they are caused. They can be classified as follows:
• Abrasions (Grazes). These are often superficial and if
thoroughly cleaned and appropriately dressed usually
heal well.
•
Incised wounds. These are caused by sharp implements,such as knives or glass, and may penetrate deeply to and
through underlying structures, such as tendons, down to
bone. The wound edges are generally healthy and heal
well ifthe edges are carefully opposed.
•
Lacerations. These are caused by blunt injury and involve
crushing or tearing of the wound edge. This results in
tissue damage or loss, and consequently carries an
increased risk of infection.
•
Puncture Wounds. These are not associated with great
ti!isue damage or loss but carry a high risk of infection as
organisms or foreign material (e.g. dirt or bits of clothing)
may be driven deep into the wound.
•
Bites - human or animal. These are often a combination
of puncture and crush and carry an extremely high risk of
infection, and will usually require antibiotics.
•
Degloving Wounds. e.g. tissue being torn from a finger
by a ring. These injuries involve loss of blood supply to the
tissue and require specialist attention.
,
70
THESHIP CAPTAIN'S MEDICALGUIDE
Wound Healing
There are many factors that can affect how well a wound heals.
Factors that promote healing
Factors that impede healing
Clean incised wound
Ragged crushed wound edges
Fresh wound <6 hours old
Old wound> 12 hours old
Uncontaminated
Contamination
No loss of tissue or blood supply
Lossof tissue or blood supply
Scalplface (good blood supply)
Shin (poor blood supply)
Clean, incised, fresh wounds with no tissue loss and a good blood supply where the edges are
held together will heal quickly and relatively painlessly. They will leave a minimal scar.
Wounds where there is a gap between the wound edges, either because of tissue loss or
because it is not possible to close the wound completely will heal by growth of new tissue. This
process is slow, often associated by some discharge and may be painful. The resultant scar may
be unsightly or disabling.
Treatment of Wounds.
Before you start:
•
Ensure the casualty is comfortable
and is offered painkillers.
Check for damage to underlying structures. If a wound is on a limb it is essential to check that
structures such as major blood vessels, nerves and tendons are intact. It will not be possible to
repair them at this stage but such injuries should be documented and attended to at the next
port. Injury to a major blood vessel is usually obvious because of bleeding. Apply firm pressure
to the bleeding point and GET RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE. DO NOT USEA TOURNIQUET! An area
of numbness beyond the injury may indicate nerve injury. Tendon injury will be indicated by
inability to move a digit. e.g. extend a finger.
Wash your hands and prepare materials and equipment required to clean, close (stitch if
necessary) and dress the wound.
Spread a sterile paper towel over a conveniently located table and layout the following:
• A sterile haemostatic clamp(e.g. Spencer Wells forceps).
• A sterile pair of scissorsand a scalpel/scalpel blade.
• A pair of sterile dissecting forceps.
•
Sufficient sterile gauze swabs to clean and mop the wound.
•
Sterile cleaning fluid, e.g. saline or antiseptic solution/wipes,
•
Suture materials or steristrips as necessary.
in a suitable sterile container.
• A disposable razor if necessary.
• A suitable dressing.
Ensure you have a container in which to place dirty or soiled dressings to hand.
Remember to wear surgical gloves to prevent (a) contamination of the wound
exposure of yourself to the patient's blood.
Preparation of the wound prior
and (b)
to closure,
If the patient is able, get them to wash the wound and surrounding area under the tap. Use
soap on undamaged skin. Next clean the wound then surrounding area thoroughly, with sterile
saline orwater.lfthe
wound is heavily contaminated with foreign material (grease etc.) then an
anti-septic solution, may be used. If necessary use local anaesthetic to infiltrate the wound (see
below) prior to gentle scrubbing with a sterile nailbrush.
Chapter 4 CAREOFTHE INJURED
•
Shave or clip the edges of the wound if necessary in order to see them clearly and to
prevent hair being caught in the wound when it is closed. Do not shave eyebrows.
•
Remove any particles of dirt (wood, metal etc.) with the tissue forceps.
• Trim away any ragged edges or dead tissue with scissorsor a scalpel blade, using local
anaesthetic if necessary.
Local Anaesthetic
You should decide whether a local anaesthetic (L.A.) will be required. An L.A. should not be
necessary for the insertion of 1 or 2 simple stitches; indeed the application of the anaesthetic
may in such cases be more painful than the suturing. In more complicated cases it may be
desirable to infiltrate lignocaine hydrochloride 1%. Occasionally L.A. is required in order to
adequately clean a wound prior to closure. (See MSN 1726 for dose.)
Bleeding.
Exerting firm, sustained pressure to the wound, with a gauze swab, for five minutes or so may
control bleeding. If there is pulsatile bleeding, that doesn't stop with pressure, it may be
necessary to tie off a small bleeding vessel. If the bleeding vessel can be seen, grasp the end with
the pointed tips of the Spencer Wells forceps and make sure the bleeding is controlled. Next
take a length of cat-gut and, holding the forceps up, slip the ligature under the forceps and tie
it off using a surgeon's knot (see Figure 4.4) so as to encircle the end of the vessel. Now cut the
ligature ends short, leaving enough only to ensure that the knot doesn't slip. Then remove the
forceps and inspect the wound to ensure the bleeding has ceased. WARNING! If the bleeding is
torrential or welling up from deep within the wound, and the bleeding point cannot be
identified do not grasp blindly with the forceps as you risk causing further damage. Apply
prolonged, firm pressure. If the bleeding is still not controlled, GET RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
Wound Closure.
'God heals, we just bring the edges together. '
A plastic surgeon.
The purpose of closing a wound is simply to oppose the edges so healing can take place quickly.
Using adhesive skin closures.
(Steristrips)
In the case of superficial lacerations or
incised wounds, which nevertheless
need closing, it may be possible to hold
the edges together using steristrips.
These are narrow adhesive strips. Once
the wound is prepared for closure the
steristrips should be applied as follows:
,
•
Make sure the wound edges are dry
or the steristrips will not stick.
•
Stick the strip to the skin on one side
ohhe wound up to, but not on the
wound edge.
•
Pull'the strip across the wound so
that the edges are brought
together.
• Then stick the strip on the skin on
the opposite side of the wound.
Repeat the process along the length of
the wound until it is closed (Figure 4.1).
71
72
THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Using Sutures.
Deep and gaping wounds cannot be closed effectively using
steristrips alone. For these wounds you will have to consider
whether suturing is appropriate.
DO NOT suture if you cannot bring together not only the
skin but also the deeper tissue. A 'dead space' will become
infected, cause the wound to fall apart, delay recovery and
may lead to the loss of the limb or even death (see Figure
4.2c). DO NOT SUTURE A WOUND THAT IS OVER 6 HOURS
OLD. WHEN IN DOUBT DO NOT SUTURE.
The circumstances in which a suture should or should not
be inserted are shown in Figure 4.2.
When you decide that suturing is appropriate, you will
require the items listed above.
Sutures are supplied in sterile dry packs as a length of silk
or nylon thread already attached to a surgical, curved,
cutting needle. These should not be opened until all is ready
for stitching to begin.
Then decide exactly what repair you intend to make. If the
cut is linear, for example, how many stitches will you need? If
the cut is star-shaped, will one stitch to include the apices of
each skin flap be adequate?
Having decided upon the nature of the repair, open the
sterile pack and extract the needle with the haemostatic or
needle forceps. Hold the needle in the tips of the forceps
approximately two- thirds the way down from its point.
Grasp the edge of the wound furthest from you with the
toothed forceps, then with a firm sharp stab drive the needle
through the whole thickness of the skin at least 0.6 cm from
its edge. Then grasp the skin on the immediate opposite side
of the wound with the toothed forceps and drive the needle
upwards through the whole thickness of the skin so that it
emerges at least 0.6 cm from the wound edge (Figure 4.3).
Make sure the depth of the suture is the same on both sides
of the wound, or you will create a step on the surface. Now
cut sufficient thread off the main length to tie a surgeon's
knot with sufficient tension exerted (and no more) to bring
the cut edges of the skin together. If the wound is deep and
clean insert the needle deeply into the underlying tissue so as
to draw it and the skin together. Insert further stitches as
required at intervals of not less than 1 cm. After tying, cut off the ends of the knots, leaving
about 1 cm of thread free to facilitate later removal of the stitches (Figure 4.3). If the cut edges
of the skin tend to curve inwards into the wound, correct with toothed forceps (Figures 4.2,4.3
and 4.5). As soon as the stitching is completed, clean the whole area with sterile saline, and
apply a sterile occlusive dressing. Dispose of sharps safely.
If you have a difficult, deep and tense wound to close use a mattress suture (Figure 4.6).
A mattress suture ensures that you bring together the edges of the wound not just on the
surface but throughout its depth and length.
Deep and gaping wounds that cannot be sutured (Figure 4.2(d»
>
If the wound is to be allowed to heal without suturing, lightly dress the wound with sterile
paraffin gauze. Then place about three layers of sterile gauze over this and make fast with
bandages. Re-dress the wound on alternate days until it is healed. If the wound is on a limb, it
should be elevated to encourage draining and reduce swelling.
,
Wound Infection.
A greater or lesser degree of infection of the wound is
inevitable after injury. This means that there will be a
certain amount of fluid from the damaged and inflamed
tissues, which should be allowed to escape. Remember this
when inserting stitches; do not put them so close together
that it is impossible for pus to discharge if it forms. Also,
when inspecting a wound after stitching, look closely to
see if there is swelling or tension on a stitch in any part of
the wound, indicating the formation of pus within the
wound. If there is, remove the stitch and allow free
drainage of the wound.
Antibiotics?
Consider whether antibiotic therapy is necessary. Simple
sutured wounds and superficial packed wounds should not
require antibiotics. In other cases,and especially with deep
wounds involving damage to muscles, start the antibiotic
treatment. When in doubt, give antibiotics.
Tetanus.
Check whether the casualty has had a tetanus injection
within the last 10 years. If not, give 0.5ml tetanus vaccine
by intra-muscular injection. This injection should be noted
in the casualty's records and you should also ensure that
he understands that he has been given a tetanus injection.
Removal of stitches.
Once the wound has healed the stitches can be removed and
a simple dressing worn until healing is complete. Remember
that some wounds take longer to heal than others. Unless
otherwise stated most sutures can be removed after one
week.
The removal of stitches is a simple and painless operation
if carried out gently. Clean the area with sterile saline. Grasp
one of the ends of the stitch with sterile forceps and lift it
up, so as to be able to insert the pointed blade of sterile
scissorsimmediately under the knot. Cut the stitch level with
the skin and by gently pulling with the forceps withdraw it
(Figure 4.8).
74
THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Internal injuries
The site of each major internal organ is shown in Annex II. If you suspect any organ is damaged,
always start a 10 minute pulse chart so that internal bleeding can be recognised as soon as
possible by a rising pulse rate. If the pulse rate is or becomes high (> 100 beats per minute) GET
RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
Restlessness is often a sign of internal bleeding - so all patients who are restless after injury
need careful watching.
If the patient is restless because of great pain, and other injuries permit (not head or chest
injuries), give morphine. This will control the pain, help to keep the patient calm and quiet, and
thus diminish bleeding by rest.
Injury to the abdomen with protrusion of gut.
GET RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE. This injury requires hospital treatment ashore at the earliest
moment. Until then, put the patient to bed lying on his back with his knees drawn up to relax
the abdomen. No attempt should be made to push intestines back into the abdomen. Exposed
intestines (gut) should be covered with a clean, non-fluffy very damp bed sheet. The covering
should be kept damp with cooled boiled water and should be held on loosely by a binder.
Alternatively the intestines could be loosely wrapped in cling-film. Nothing should be given by
mouth. If the patient cannot be taken off the ship within about 12 hours, fluid should be given
via the rectal route.
Keep the patient warm, give morphine to keep the patient pain-free at rest and start
antibiotics until he can be taken off the ship.
Head injuries
The majority of head injuries are not serious. However, all but the most superficial head injuries
are potentially dangerous. Careful examination is therefore essential.
In the first instance, the aim of examination is to distinguish whether the patient has
sustained, or is at risk of, a brain injury.
The characteristic sign of brain injury is alteration in the level of consciousness.
Assessment of the Head Injured Patient
History
If the patient is conscious they are usually able to tell you what happened. For patients who are
unconscious it is essential to get as much detail of what happened from other crew members,
particularly whether the patient's level of consciousness has changed since the injury occurred.
Examination
There are three key indicators of brain injury.
•
Level of consciousness,
•
pupil size and reaction to light, and
• signs of paralysis down one side of the body.
Level of consciousness (L. O. C.)
After ensuring that the casualty's airway is clear and he is breathing adequately, your first
priority is to establish the patient's L.O.c. This can be done simply and quickly using the AVP.U.
score, detailed below, or the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS)if you are familiar with it.
1. Isthe patient
Alert (talking sensibly etc.)?
2. If not does he respond to
Verbal stimuli (i.e. your voice)?
3. If not does he respond to
Pain (e.g. Firm pressure on a fingernail with a pen)?
4. Or is the patient
Unresponsive?
This is the most important indication of brain injury, and if the patient's L.O.C. is
deteriorating, following a head injury GET RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE, YOUR PATIENTREQUIRES
URGENTTRANSFERTO HOSPITAL.
Chapter4 CAREOFTHE INJURED
Pupil Response
• Are the pupils equal in size?
•
Do they constrict (get smaller) when a light is shone into them?
The pupils should Qe the same size and constrict quickly and equally when a bright light is
shone into them. Some people always have unequal pupils, however, in an unconscious patient,
following a significant head injury, a pupil that is widely dilated and unreactive to light
probably indicates a serious, life threatening brain injury. GET RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE YOUR
PATIENTREQUIRESURGENTTRANSFERTO HOSPITAL.
Signs of Paralysis down one side of the body
Is the patient moving one side of his body more than the
other? You may have to inflict a painful stimulus, like
pressure on a fingernail, to get an unconscious patient to
move. Unilateral paralysis may indicate that a blood clot is
forming in the skull and putting pressure on the brain
(Figure 4.9a). Under these circumstances, GET RADIO
MEDICAL ADVICE YOUR PATIENT REQUIRES URGENT
TRANSFERTO HOSPITAL.
Care of the Unconscious Head Injured Patient
It is essential that you do not allow the patient to come to
Figure 4.9a Compression of the
any further harm.
brain.
Move the patient to a safe environment, place him in the
recovery position and ensure that his airway is clear and he is breathing adequately. If necessary,
assisted respiration or artificial respiration should be given. He must be kept constantly under
observation in case he should vomit, have fits or become restless and throw himself out of the
unconscious position. The observation should be maintained when consciousness returns in
case he lapses into coma once again.
Caution! Injuries to the neck are often associated with severe head injuries, so every care
should be taken to minimise movement of the neck, and a neck collar, if available, should be
fitted to the patient.
· Once the patient is in a safe environment, GET RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE and continue to
monitor the patients breathing pulse and level of consciousness.
Other Signs of Serious Head Injury
Skull Fractures
A skull fracture indicates thatthe patient has sustained a significant head injury. In severe injury
a depressed fracture may be apparent on careful examination. There is a depression in the skull
and sometimes, bony fragments may be present in the wound (Figure 4.9b). Linear fractures of
the sides or top of the skull (the vault) are less obvious and normally only diagnosed on x-rays.
However, they are occasionally seen or felt at the base of a head wound. Base of skull fractures
are the result of indirect force which is transmitted to the base of the skull from a heavy blow to
the vault, from blows to the face or jaw or when the casualty falls from a height and lands on his
feet. They can be diagnosed by deduction from the history of injury and certain examination
findings.
1. (SF (cerebro-spinal fluid) leakage from the ears or nose.
This fluid normally circulates around the brain and spinal
cord, cushioning them from injury. It appears as
bloodstained or sticky clear fluid that trickles from the
ear or drips from the nose.
2. 'Panda Eyes' Bleeding from a base of skull fracture ends
up appearing around both eyes giving the patient two
black eyes.
Figure 4.9b Depressed skull
fracture with brain compression.
75
76
THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
There is little you can do about the skull fracture itself. If you suspect a depressed fracture,
suturing any laceration should control bleeding.
An open wound needs to be covered to prevent infection. However DO NOT poke around in
scalp wounds, press over the wound, or try to remove fragments of bone from scalp wounds.
Using scissors, trim the hair around the wound then shave the scalp with a disposable razor
so that the edges of the wound can be seen clearly. Carefully clean the wound and surrounding
scalp by irrigating the area with sterile saline or boiled, cooled water. Dry the scalp then suture
the laceration with silk, and cover this with sterile swabs before bandaging. Hair should not be
allowed to enter the wound. Give benzyl penicillin 600 mg intramuscularly, followed by oral
antibiotic treatment. If the casualty is unconscious, continue to give benzyl penicillin 600 mg
intramuscularly every 6 hours. If allergy develops read the section on allergy and GET RADIO
MEDICAL ADVICE.
Fits or Convulsions
Fits may occur after a head injury. If the movements are violent, do not attempt to restrain the
casualty by the use of excessive force. It is only necessary to prevent him from causing further
injury to himself. If the fit continues for more than a minute give diazepam 5mg rectally. If this
dose fails to control the fit, give a further 5mg after 3-4 minutes and GET RADIO MEDICAL
ADVICE YOUR PATIENTREQUIRESURGENTTRANSFERTO HOSPITAL.
Headaches
.Headaches are common after all types of head injury, even when trivial. However, they usually
subside over the days following the injury. A headache becomes concerning if it increases in
severity and particularly if it is associated with the onset of drowsiness, confusion or vomiting.
Under these circumstances GET RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
Vomiting
One or two episodes of vomiting following a head injury is relatively common and not cause for
concern. Persistent 'effortless' vomiting, however, may be an indication of increasing pressure
within the skull caused by an enlarging blood clot. When associated with increasing headache,
drowsiness or confusion, this should be taken seriously and you should GET RADIO MEDICAL
ADVICE.
Communication
When communicating with a medical advisor on the ship's radio it is essential that clear, concise
information
is conveyed. You should report using the format in Chapter 13 including
particularly:
• A report of the patient's ABC status. A=Airway Isthe patient maintaining a clear airway
(Noisy breathing indicates a partially obstructed airway.) A clear airway should be maintained
at all times. B=Breathing Isthe casualty breathing adequately? What isthe respiratory rate
(breaths per minute)? C=Circulation What isthe pulse rate? Isthe pulse full or thready?
• A report of the patient's level of consciousness (A.V.P.U), pupils size and reaction, and signs
of paralysis. This should include any change since the injury occurred.
•
Details of any other injuries.
Longer term management
of serious head injuries.
If a casualty with a serious head injury has to remain on board for more than a few hours, it will
be necessary to monitor his condition. You should record as much information as possible to
help those to whom the casualty will eventually be transferred and possibly deal with certain
complications.
Include in your records:
•
Date and time of the accident.
•
Howthe accident happened in detail.
• The casualty's condition when first seen.
Chapter 4 CAREOFTHEINJURED
• The condition of the casualty subsequently.
•
Details of the treatment you have carried out.
The essential observations should be recorded every half-hour while you are preparing to
evacuate the casualty. They are, in the order of importance:
• The respiratory rate. A clear airway should be maintained at all times. If the respiratory rate
drops below 8 breaths per minute assisted or artificial ventilation should be used.
• The pulse rate.
• The level of consciousness.(A.V.P.U.)
• The state of the pupils. (Sizeand reaction to light)
• The development of any signs of paralysis.
Concussion and Minor Head injuries
Concussion
Concussion of the brain can occur when a heavy blow is applied to the skull. It occurs because
the brain is fairly soft and its function can be subject to widespread disturbance when shock
waves passthrough its substance. Suspect this condition if the casualty losesconsciousnessfor
only a few minutes. It is characterised by a lossof memory for events before or after the injury,
headache and sometimes nausea and vomiting. The casualty should be put to bed and allowed
to rest for 48 hours. Headache may be troublesome and paracetamol or codeine phosphate may
be required. These headaches may continue for many weeks after an accident. The casualty
should be warned to report immediately if he notices increasing headaches or drowsiness or if
he vomits. He should be sent to see a doctor at the next port.
Bruising
Bruising will occur if a moderate force is applied. Becausethe
head is well supplied with blood, a collection of blood
(haematoma) will form in the tissues under the scalp. It ma~
be sharply defined, hard and tense, or it may be a fairl~
diffuse soggy swelling (Figure 4.10). If the soggy area is large
it may indicate an underlying fracture so the patient should
be closely monitored. No specific treatment is required. An
ice pack held over the area might control the bleeding.
Scalp Lacerations
These are common because there is little tissue between the
skull and the scalp. The wound will bleed freely and often
out of proportion to the size of the wound. Surrounding
tissues may be swollen and soggy with the blood that has
leaked into them. The scalp edges will be ragged, not
clean-cut (Figure 4.11). Control the bleeding by pressure. 11
necessary,stitch the wound as detailed above. Ensure that
you can see the wound clearly by shaving the scalp for
distance of 1em from the wound edge.
Pain Relief in Head Injuries
Paracetamol should be used in minor injuries for relief of headaches. 1g orally every 4-6 hours
(maximum 4g per 24 hours)
~
Codeine phosphate may be used if Paracetamol is not effective. 30-60mg orally or
intramuscularly every 4-6 hours.
Morphine should not be given unless the head injury is trivial and the casualty has serious
and painful major injuries elsewhere.
77
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THE SHIP CAPTAIN'S MEDICAL GUIDE
Eye injuries
The eye(s) can be injured in several ways which include foreign bodies, direct blow as in a fight,
lacerations, chemicals and burns. The eye is a very sensitive organ and any injury must be
treated seriously.
Anatomy
The eyes lie partially protected in bony cavities of the skull. They are guarded by the eyelids
(upper and lower) which have the faculty of blinking and closure. The white part of the eye is
the sclera and the clear transparent central part is the cornea.
The cornea covers the coloured iris which controls the size of the pupil. Behind the pupil,
which appears black in colour, is the lens which is not normally visible. The retina is the inner
lining of the eyeball and it provides the sight receptors. The conjunctiva is the outer lining, a
thin membrane which covers both the inner surfaces of the upper and lower eyelids, and the
visible part of the eyeball except for the cornea (Figure 4.12).
Examination
The first stage in treating an eye injury is to record a full account of the injury, what happened
and the details of the symptoms. It will then be necessary to carry out a careful examination. It
helps if the casualty is lying down, with head supported and held slightly back, during the
examination.
Basic requirements are:
•
Good illumination
(overhead light, lamp, or hand held torch or strong day light);
•
Magnifying
•
Soft paper tissues;
•
Moist cotton wool swabs or moist cotton buds;
•
Fluorescein drops (stain);
•
Anaesthetic eye drops;
•
Basic antibiotic eye ointment. NOTE: any opened tube should only be used for treating one
patient for one course of treatment.
glass;
First record the general appearance of the tissues around the eye(s), looking for swelling,
bruising or obvious abnormality; and then examine the affected eye(s) starting with the sclera,
the conjunctiva, which covers both the sclera and the backs of the eyelids, and the cornea.
Comparing one eye with the other is helpful and a diagram is the best method of recording the
findings.
The sclera can be viewed by gently holding apart the
eyelids with the fingers and asking the patient to look in four
different directions. Make sure you can see well into each
'corner' of the eyelids. The inside of the lower lid can be
inspected by gently pulling down the lower lid with the eyes
looking upwards. The upper lid must be rolled back (everted)
before the underlying conjunctiva can be inspected. There
are two methods of doing this. Both require the casualty to
keep looking down towards the feet while the technique is
being completed.
To evert the upper lid, ask the casualty to remain looking
downwards then place the index finger of one hand across
the upper lid while grasping the eyelashes firmly but gently
between the index finger and thumb of the other hand. Pull
gently downwards on the eyelashes and then with a
downward pressure of the index finger fold the eyelid back
over it. The index finger is then withdrawn and the everted lid
can be held back by pressing the eyelashes against the bony
margin of the socket, under the eyebrow. The underneath
surface of the lid can now be examined. The eyelid will
return to normal position if the casualty looks upwards and
then closes the eyelids together (Figure 4.13 - Method I).
The alternative methods use a cotton bud laid on or across the upper lid, instead of a finger.
The same procedure is followed, with the casualty looking downward and the eyelid being
folded upwards over the cotton bud, which is then withdrawn. These procedures ensure that
the whole area of conjunctiva is inspected for damage or foreign bodies (Figure 4.13).
The cornea and surrounding area should next be inspected and it helps to slant the light across
the surface to show up any abnormality. The magnifying glass is beneficial for this examination.
The cornea should be clear and any area of cloudiness or opacity, or the presence of foreign
bodies should be noted. The surrounding sclera may be reddish in colour which can signify
corneal irritation. Any obvious loose foreign body should be removed at this stage (see below).
Staining the eye with fluorescein will highlight any area of corneal or conjunctival damage.
The fluorescein drops should be instilled with the lower lid everted with the casualty looking
upwards. Wipe any excess dye off the eyelids. Any area of corneal or conjunctival damage will
attract the dye and be stained green. Any such area should be clearly shown on the diagram in
the casualty's notes.
The more common injuries affecting the eyes and the treatments are described in the
following paragraphs. Treatment for the relief of pain should be appropriate to the degree of
discomfort being experienced.
Blows on or adjacent to the eye (black eye)
These blows may result either in the complete or partial detachment of the retina or in bleeding
into the eyeball. If, after an injury, there is any marked deterioration in sight the casualty should
be put to bed and seen by a doctor as soon as possible. Get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE. Even if
there is no discernible deterioration of sight the casualty should be advised to visit a doctor at
the next port.
Corneal abrasions
A scratth or abrasion on the cornea can be caused, for example, by a foreign body under the
eyelids or by a fingernail touching the eye. Pain is felt immediately and the casualty thinks there
is some-thing in the eye. Corneal abrasions can be identified by staining the eye with
fluorescein. Antibiotic eye ointment should be placed along the inside of the lower lid, and
blinking the eyelids will smear the ointment across the eye. An eye pad held in place by loose
~strapping should be applied for 24 hours. Next day re-examine the eye, using the fluorescein
stain. If there is no sign of staining after careful examination, the treatment can be stopped. If
the cornea still stains, repeat the treatment every 24 hours until the staining ceases or the
casualty visits a doctor.
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THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Loose foreign bodies
These can often be removed from under the lids or over the conjunctiva without the use of
anaesthetic eye drops. Use moistened cotton wool on a stick or a moistened cotton bud. Be very
gentle. After you have removed the foreign body or foreign bodies, stain the eye with
fluorescein and mark any areas of staining on an eye diagram. If there is any staining, treat as
for corneal abrasion.
However, the eyes of some persons are so sensitive that it is impossible to examine the eye
thoroughly or remove a foreign body unless anaesthetic eye drops have been used. These drops
may cause slight smarting for several minutes after being put into the eye. Wait for this effect
to wear off before examining the eye or attempting to remove a foreign body by the method
described above. Remember that the surface of the eye will be insensitive so you must be very
gentle. After the foreign body has been removed treat as for corneal abrasion.
A foreign body may occasionally adhere to the surface of the eye and an attempt to pick it up
using a cotton bud will fail. The anaesthetic eye drops should then be used before one attempt
is made to remove the foreign body using a nylon eye loop. The greatest care must be taken not
to injure the eye and should the attempt fail it must not be repeated. Afterwards, whether
successful or not, treat as for corneal abrasion.
Foreign bodies embedded in, or completely inside, the eye
When very small pieces of metal, grit etc. become embedded in the cornea or the sclera, it may
be very difficult to see either the wound or the object, even with the help offluorescein, and the
patient may not have felt any pain when the accident occurred. However, you should suspect
such an accident if questioning the patient reveals that he has been hammering, chipping,
milling, boring orstriking metal with a tool, orstanding nearsomeonewhowasdoing
so, or has
rubbed his eyes after getting dirt in them.
If you believe an injury of this kind has occurred, or you are in any doubt about it, treat the
eye as for corneal abrasion. However, the application of antibiotic eye ointment should be
repeated often enough to keep the eye comfortable but not less frequently than every six
hours. The casualty should see an eye specialist as soon as possible. Do not attempt to remove
the foreign body yourself.
Wounds of the eyelids and eyeball
Get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE AT ONCE, if the eyeball is cut and if the eye leaks fluid or jelly. In
the meanwh iIe close the eyel ids or approximate them as best you can. Cover the eyel id with one
ortwo layers of paraffin gauze to keep the eyelid shut. Then place an eye pad overthis. Stick the
eye pad in place with strips of adhesive tape or sticking plaster. Give the standard antibiotic
treatment.
Chemical burns
If this has not already been done, wash the chemical out of the eye with copious amounts of
water for as long as is necessary to ensure that no chemical remains in the eye. This period is
rarely lessthan 10 minutes.
Then stain the eye with fluorescein. If there is marked staining of the eye, antibiotic eye
ointment should be applied copiously to prevent the lids sticking to the eyeball. Apply the
ointment every 4 hours, and cover the eye with paraffin gauze and an eye pad. The casualty
should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible.
Less severe damage should be treated by 4-hourly applications of antibiotic eye ointment
with an eye cover of paraffin gauze and a pad. Re-examine the eye each day, using fluorescein.
Treatment should be continued for 24 hours after the eye is not stained by fluorescein and is
white.
Arc eyes ('Welder's Flash')
The ultra-violet (UV) in an electric arc can cause 'sunburn' of the surface of unprotected eyes. In
arc eyes, both eyes feel gritty within 24 hours and look red. Bright light hurts the eyes. The eyes
should be carefully searched for foreign bodies and be stained with fluorescein. If one eye only
is affected it is probably not an arc eye. It may be due to an embedded corneal foreign body or
an area of corneal damage which will show on staining with fluorescein.
Chapter4 CAREOFTHE INJURED
Bathing the eyes with cold water and cold compresses applied to the lids will give some relief
of symptoms. Dark glasses help the discomfort caused by light. If the eyes feel very gritty, apply
antibiotic ointment to the eyes every 4 hours. The condition will usually clear up spontaneously
within about 48 hours if no further exposure to UV occurs. Further exposure to welding should
be avoided and dark glasses should be worn in bright sunlight until the eyes are fully recovered.
Ear injuries
Foreign bodies
Sand, an insect, or some other small object in the ear may cause irritation, discomfort or pain. If
it is clearly visible, it may be possible to remove it using tweezers. If this cannot be achieved
easily NO other efforts should be made to extract it by any means. You may pierce the ear drum
if you try to remove objects which are not visible or which are stuck in the ear passage; also you
might push the object further in.
If nothing is visible, flood the ear passage with tepid groundnut (arachis), olive or sunflower
oil which may float the object out or bring it out when the casualty drains his ear by lying over
on the affected side. If these measures are unsuccessful send the casualty to a doctor at the first
available opportunity.
Injuries to the internal ear
If the ear drum has been perforated as the result of a skull fracture there may be a flow of
cerebro-spinal fluid and this should not be stopped by inserting anything into the ear. The
casualty should be placed on his injured side, with his shoulders and head propped up; this will
allow the fluid to drain freely. For other injuries, put a dressing over the ear and apply a
bandage. Do not put cotton wool in the ear passage. In all cases, get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
Nose injuries
Foreign bodies
Sometimes, when a foreign body is stuck in one nostril, the
casualty can blow it out by compressing the other nostril and
blowing down the blocked one. Otherwise, if the object can
be seen and is loose it may be removed by using forceps.
Unless this is clearly feasible no attempt should be made to
remove the object and the casualty must be seen by a doctor.
Injuries inside the Nose
If bleeding cannot be controlled by the method described
in Chapter 1 then it may be necessary to pack the nose. This
is done by lubricating
ribbon gauze thoroughly
with
petroleum jelly (Vaseline) and inserting it in the nostril with
the aid of forceps (Figure 4.14). Put in sufficient gauze to fill
the nostril without stretching it unduly. Leave the gauze in
place for 48 hours, and then gently pull it out.
A fracture of the nose cannot be dealt with on board ship
and the only problem will be to stop any persistent bleeding.
Any distortion of the nose will have to be corrected in
hospital.
Mouth and dental injuries
Cuts inside the mouth and a broken jaw
" When there has been a severe blow to a jaw, especially if the jaw is broken, there may be
complications caused by broken dentures, by the loss of teeth and by wounds to gums, the lips,
the tongue and the inside and outside of the mouth. For external wounds to the cheek and lips
treatment is as for any skin wound.
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THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
For wounds inside the mouth the casualty should first rinse his mouth well with antiseptic
mouthwash which should remove any loose fragments. You should not try to extract pieces of
tooth from the gum. If the casualty is in pain read the section on analgesics.
Treatment for a lost tooth is given in Chapter 1, and for other teeth in Chapter 7.
No attempt should be made to stitch deep wounds of the cheek and tongue. Serious
bleeding should be controlled by pressure.
If a jaw is or may be broken the upper and lower jaws should be held together by a bandage
with, as far as possible, the upper and lower teeth fitting together as they normally do. If the
patient has dentures which still fit adequately he should wear them; they will help to act asa splint.
If the wounds on the face or inside the mouth are other than very slight give antibiotic
treatment. If the casualty is unable to take tablets by mouth give benzyl penicillin 300 mg
intramuscularly every six hours for five days.
Burns and scalds
The treatment
of burns and scalds caused by dry or wet heat respectively is the same.
Classification
Skin has an outer layer (epidermis) and a deep layer (dermis). The latter contains the sweat
glands, hair follicles and nerves relaying sensation and pain to the skin.
FIRST DEGREE BURNS affect only the outer skin layer, causing redness, mild swelling,
tenderness and pain.
SECONDDEGREEBURNSextend into the deeper skin layer (dermis):
•
Superficial second degree burns cause deep reddening, blister formation,
swelling, and weeping of fluid.
considerable
•
Deep second degree burns may not be easy to distinguish from third degree burns
immediately after the injury. Pain may be severe because of damage to the nerve endings.
THIRD DEGREEBURNSinvolve the whole thickness of skin, and may extend to the underlying
fat, muscle and bone. The skin may be charred, black or dark brown, leathery or white
according to the cause of the burn. Pain may be absent due to destruction of the nerve endings.
Fluid loss
The fluid lost in burns is the colourless liquid part ofthe blood (plasma). The degree of fluid loss
may be determined more by the area of the burn than by its depth. The greater the plasma loss,
the more severe the degree of shock. Further, due to loss of plasma, the remaining blood is
'thicker', and more difficult to pump round the body, throwing extra strain on the heart.
Area of burn - the rule of nines
A recognised method of calculating the surface area of the body is the 'rule of nines'
(Figure 4.15). In children (not babies) the percentage for the head should be doubled and 1%
taken off the other areas.
Treatment
Try to remove to hospital within 6 hours or otherwise seek RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE in the case of:
• third degree burns, especially those which encircle chest or limbs;
•
babies;
•
burns of face and genitalia, and large burns around joints;
•
burns of over 18% ofthe body surface in adults or 10% in children or older persons (Figure 4.15).
Until removed to hospital put the patient to bed and seek to restore the fluid balance by
encouraging the patient to drink as much as possible. Put rehydration powder into the drink
according to the instructions; (if not available dissolve 1 teaspoonful of salt in '12 litre of water).
If vomiting occurs and persists, fluid per rectum may be necessary. Relieve pain and start
antibiotic treatment. Remove rings, jewelry or constricting items of clothing. Anxiety may be
relieved by giving diazepam 5 mg, repeated every 4 hours. Cling film makes a good temporary
dressing for large burns.
Less serious cases can be treated aboard ship.
First assemble:
• a plentiful supply of soap, warm boiled water
and gauze pads;
• at least two sets of sterile scissorsand forceps;
sufficient paraffin gauze burn and wound
dressing to cover and overlap the cleansed
burned areas;
• sterile gauze and sterile cotton wool to go on
top of the dressings as padding;
• suitable sterile bandages;
• face mask for each attendant
Wash your hands and forearms thoroughly and
put on a face mask. Remove the first-aid dressing
to expose either a single burned area (in multiple
burns) or a portion of a single burn e.g. a hand and
forearm, or a quarter of the back. The aim is to
limit the areas of burned skin exposed at anyone
time to lessen both the risk of infection and the
seepage of fluid. Clean the skin around the edges
ofthe burn with soap, water and pads. Clean away
Figure 4.15 Rule of nines - to determine
from the burn in every direction. DO NOT use
the extent of burns.
cotton wool or other linty material for cleaning as
it is likely to leave bits in the burn.
Leave blisters intact but clip off all the dead skin if blisters have burst. Flood the area with
clean warm boiled water from a clean receptacle to remove debris. Soak a pad in warm boiled
water to dab gently at any remaining dirt orforeign matter in the burned area. Be gentle asthis
will inevitably cause pain.
Next cover the burn with the paraffin gauze dressing, overlapping the burn or scald by
50-100 mm, according to its size. To absorb any fluid leaking from the burn apply a covering of
absorbent material, e.g. a layer of sterile gauze, covered with a layer of sterile cotton wool. This
is held in place by a suitable bandage.
Thoroughly wash your hands and arms before proceeding to deal as above with the
remainder of a large burn or another burn in the case of multiple burns. In serious cases, start
antibiotic treatment.
Dressings should be left undisturbed for a week unless the dressing becomes smelly or very
dirty, or the temperature is raised. Re-dress such areas as above. Supercicial second degree
burns will usually heal in a week to ten days without scarring. Deeper second degree should
heal with little scarring in about three weeks.
Special burns
Severe sunburn with blistering should be treated as a second degree burn according to the area
of the bqdy involved. In mild cases, (first degree burns) keep the patient out of the sun and
apply calamine lotion or zinc ointment to the painful areas.
Scalds and burns of mouth and throat. Wash out with water and give ice to suck.
Respiratory burns are caused by the inhalation of hot gases and air particles, and smoke.
Expect such a burn when you find burns around the mouth, nose, face, hair and neck. Heat
from a flash fire may also cause a burn-related swelling of the top of the throat, even though
there is no sign of burns on the face.
A patient with a mild injury to the respiratory passage may have only a cough, hoarseness, or
a sore throat. In more severe cases the patient may suffer from marked shortness of breath,
• persistent coughing, wheezing and hoarseness. In very severe cases the respiratory passages
, may be blocked by a swollen throat and the lungs may partially collapse.
If the patient has difficulty in breathing and is unconscious insert a Guedel airway. In any
event, get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE IMMEDIATELY.
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THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Dislocations
The commonest dislocations are of the shoulder and the finger joints. Try to deal with (i.e.
reduce) these dislocations if a doctor cannot see the casualty within about six hours.
All other dislocations should be left for treatment by a doctor. Until this is possible, place the
patient in a comfortable position and relieve pain.
NOTE: In some cases a dislocation may be accompanied by a fracture of the same or a related
part, so be careful.
Dislocated shoulder
The shoulder will be painful and cannot be moved by the patient. Undress the patient to the
waist and note the outline of the good shoulder and compare it with the affected side. Usually
in a shoulder dislocation the outward curve of the muscle just below the shoulder is replaced by
an inward dent, and the distance from the tip of the shoulder to the elbow is longer on the
injured side. This is because the head of the arm-bone usually dislocates inwards and
downwards. If you think that the shoulder is dislocated, give the casualty 15 mg of morphine
intramuscularly. When the pain is relieved (in about 15 to 20 minutes), the casualty should lie
face downwards on a bunk, couch or table, the height of which should be sufficient for the arm
to hang down without touching the deck. As the casualty lies down on the bed, hold his
dislocated arm until you have placed a small pillow or big pad under the affected shoulder.
Then lower the arm slowly until it is hanging straight down the side of the bunk and leave it to
hang freely. The patient should remain in this position for about 1 hour, letting the weight of
the arm overcome the muscle spasm caused by the dislocation. At the end of this period, if the
dislocation is reduced, the patient should roll onto his good side and then use the injured arm
by bending the elbow and then touching the good shoulder with the fingers. Afterwards he
should be helped to sit up and the arm should be kept in a collar and cuffsling until the shoulder
is fairly comfortable. This might take up to 48 hours. When the sling is removed, the patient
should exercise the joint slowly and carefully. A check x-ray should be taken at the next port. If
the above treatment does not reduce the dislocation, get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
Dislocated finger
Finger dislocations can usually be reduced by pulling firmly on the finger. It is often a good idea
to begin by binding the patient's elbow to a right-angle. Pull firmly on the finger for about one
minute while a helper is pulling in the opposite direction at the elbow. Keeping the ends ofthe
bones apart by pulling, gently ease the joint back into its normal position. The affected finger
should be immobilised by strapping to an adjacent finger. After 24 hours, the strapping should
be removed and the patient should exercise the finger slowly and carefully. A check x-ray should
be taken at the next port.
Sprains and strains
These injuries are usually the result of twisting, turning or tripping. Pain is usually felt at once,
and later swelling at the site of injury will occur due to bleeding.
There is no sure clinical method of excluding fracture associated with sprains and strains except
by x-ray. When there is doubt, it is therefore safer to assume the possibility of fracture and to
treat accordingly.
Whether the injury is seen immediately or later when much swelling may have occurred, put
the casualty in his bunk and elevate the injured part, if this is possible. Cold water compresses
kept in place by a crepe bandage should be applied. An ice-pack wrapped in a damp cloth may
also help to reduce swelling. Avoid prolonged use of ice as skin damage can occur.
Rest and elevation may be necessary for two to three days (or sometimes longer according to
the severity ofthe injury). Continue support wit'" a crepe bandage. Pain relief may be necessary.
If an associated fracture is not present, gentle movement of the injured part should be
encouraged. Sprains and strains do much better with early movement than with too long a
period of rest. The casualty can usually judge when he can use the injured part for full or
restricted duties.
If not fully recovered, get an x-ray at the first port of call.
Causes of disease
This chapter deals with common-sense measures and some
necessaryprecautions which should be taken to preserve the
health of those aboard ship and to prevent the spread of
diseasewhere it has occurred. Of the many causesof disease,
infection by living organisms is the commonest and an
understanding oftheir mode of spread is necessaryif healthy
living and working conditions are to be maintained.
Microbes (germs) can be classified in broad terms as
viruses, bacteria, and fungi. They are widely disseminated
throughout nature and although most of them are not
harmful to mankind certain organisms may invade the body
and produce particular diseases.They gain entry to the body,
usually through the nose or mouth or the broken skin.
Infection can take place directly from person to person or it
may be conveyed indirectly in air, water or food or by a
parasite carrier (such as an insect).
The viruses of influenza, that of the common cold and
much more rarely Legionnaires disease are examples of airborne infection which is spread when the sufferer coughs or
sneezes.
Typhoid fever is an example of a water-borne bacterial
infection. The excreta of infected persons contaminate water
supplies. Hence the necessity for safeguarding the water
supply for washing aswell asfor drinking at all times.
Examples of two well-known bacterial diseases brought
about by personal contact are syphilis and gonorrhoea.
A number of diseasesare conveyed by carriers. The plague
germ isconveyed by the bites offleas living on the rat. Typhus
is conveyed in similar manner by lice. Malaria and yellow
fever organisms inhabit the salivary glands of the mosquito
and are injected into the blood when the mosquito bites.
Flies, because of their behaviour, are very prone to convey
disease germs from filth to food.
Ringworm is an example of a disease caused by a fungus
through contact.
Potable water
This covers water used for drinking, cooking, the washing of
cooking and eating utensils, and water used for general
cleaning and bathing. Additional advice is given in Merchant
Shipping Notices M.1214 and M1401.
Freshwater should be free from causesof infection and be
bright, clear and virtually colourless. It should be aerated,
that is, it should bubble when shaken, otherwise it has an
insipid taste.
TheMerchant Shipping Crew Accommodation Regulations
1997 and Merchant Shipping Crew Accomodation (Fishing
Vessels) Regulations 1975 require all fresh water produced
on board ship to be disinfected automatically. Electro-silver
ionisation systemsare acceptable for this requirement.
•
Fresh water storage tanks
These water tanks are coated internally with an anticorrosive material which will not contaminate the water. It is
recommended that the tanks should be emptied annually, or
86
THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
more frequently if contamination is suspected, for inspection and maintenance after which
they should be thoroughly scrubbed and flushed out, and the whole water system disinfected
by chlorine (see below). Anyone entering any potable or washing water tanks should wear
clean clothing and footwear, and should not be suffering from skin infections, diarrhoea or any
communicable disease.
Disinfection of the fresh water tanks and distribution system by superchlorination
It is recommended that the storage tanks and the whole of the fresh water system should be
disinfected at intervals of not more than twelve months even if the quality of the water that has
been used to fill them is not suspect.
The chlorine compounds that may be used for disinfecting are chlorinated lime, high-test
hypo-chlorite or commercially prepared sodium hypo-chlorite solution.
NOTE. Before being diluted by the water in the potable water system these compounds:
•
are dangerous to eyes and skin - see IMO Medical First Aid Guide;
• deteriorate on exposure to air - they should, therefore, be purchased in small containers
which should be sealed tightly after use;
•
should be kept in a cool, dry and dark place, but where they can be easily seen and removed
when needed or there is a likelihood of fire;
•
Calcium Hypochlorite - is liable to spontaneous combustion if not stored as above, or if in
contact with animal, vegetable, plastic or other inorganic material;
•
Chlorinated Lime - is liable to facilitate fires.
See also the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code.
Determinethe volume of water necessary to fill the tanks and distribution system completely
and the amount of chlorine compound required. The latter can be calculated from the
manufacturer's instructions or from the table or formula shown below.
Chapter 5 CAUSESAND PREVENTIONOF DISEASE
Chlorinated
lime
Place the required amount of chlorine compound in one or more clean, dry buckets (or drums).
Add a small amount of water to each bucket and mix the lime into a thick paste. Dilutethe paste
by adding warm water gradually, and stirring constantly, until there are about six litres of
solution in each bucket. Allow the solution to stand for 30 minutes, so that the undissolved
particles may settle to the bottom. Decant the clear liquid (the chlorine solution) and, if
necessary, filter it through muslin or cheese-cloth prior to putting it into the tank
Chloride of lime may be sold as:
Chloride of Lime
(Stablochlor)
Chlorinated Lime Calx Chlorinata
British
Calx Chlorinata
U.S.A.
Chlorure de Chaux
SeldeJavelle
French
Chlorkalk
Calcaria Chlorata
German
Calx Chlorata
Danish, Norwegian and Swedish
Cloruro di Calce
Italian
Hipoclorito Calcico Clorurado
Spanish
Hipoclorito de Calcio
Mexican
Cal Chlorada
Portuguese
High-test
calcium hypochlorite
Place the required amount ofthe compound in one or more clean, dry metal buckets (or drums).
Add fresh water and stir until the powder is dissolved (disregard any slight turbidity).
Sodium hypochlorite
No preparation
solution
is required.
Procedure
Introduce the chlorine solution into nearly empty fresh water tanks and immediately fill them to
overflowing with fresh water. The tu rbu lence of the incoming water wi II ensure adeq uate m ixi ng.
Open the taps and outlets of the fresh water distribution system nearest the storage tanks,
and allow the water to flow until you can smell chlorinated water. Then close those taps and
outlets, and, working outwards from the tanks, open and close successively the other taps and
outlets until they have all been flushed with chlorinated water. Care should be taken to ensure
that the pressure tank is filled with chlorinated water.
In flushing the system a certain amount of the chlorinated water will have been drawn from
the storage tanks. They should be refilled to overflowing, and chlorine solution should be
added to make up the concentration in the tanks to 50 ppm (50 mg/litre), ie if you have drained
off 380 litres of water you will need to add, for example, an additional 75 grams ofchlorinated
lime 25% solution.
Tl)e chlorinated water should be allowed to remain in the storage tanks and the distribution
system preferably for twelve hours but not less than four hours. After the contact period the
tanks and distribution system should be drained and flushed with potable water until the water
no longer has an objectionable taste of chlorine.
Hoses
r.
Hoses, where carried on board for the purposes of transferring waterfrom shore mains supply
()r water barges, should be used solely for this purpose. They should also be suitably marked
and, after use, should be drained and capped at both ends. The hoses should be stowed away
from the deck in a place free from contamination.
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THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Disinfection of hoses should be carried out as a routine measure every 6 months - or
whenever any contamination is suspected -with a chlorine solution of 100 ppm (100 mg/litre).
This should be allowed to stand in the completely filled hose for a period of at least one hour.
A 100 ppm strength solution can be obtained by doubling the quantities of chlorine shown
in the formula for the 50 ppm hyper-chlorine solution used for disinfecting ships' water tanks
which is shown in the above table.
Taking water on board
Before taking on water check that the delivery cocks on the shore and the receiving point on
the ship are properly cleaned. Examine the hose to ensure that it is clean, in good working
order, and free from leaks (germs can get in through leaks in the hose). Ensure that the ends of
the hose do not drag across the deck.
If you are taking water for potable purposes from a source which is new to you or about
which you have doubts, you should ask the British Consul or your agents for advice as to
whether the water is likely to contain germs or harmful minerals such as lead. Remember that a
bright, clear, sparkling water may easily contain either deadly organisms such as cholera, or
harmful minerals such as lead. It is unlikely that fresh water taken on board will contain
sufficient (if any) chlorine to ensure complete safety.
It is recommended therefore that the chlorination of water outlined in the following
paragraph be carried out in all vessels, including those equipped with distillation units and/or
ultra violet sterilizers.
Routine treatment of fresh water by chlorine
All fresh water taken from shore or water barge for drinking or washing should be chlorinated
on loading to ensure a residual free chlorine content of 0.2 ppm at all outlets throughout the
ship's freshwater distribution system. As free chlorine in a ship's water system is progressively
lost in passing through the system it will, in practice, be necessary to chlorinate the water held
in the storage tanks to a higher concentration than 0.2 ppm. Finding the best actual level of
initial concentration may be a matter of experiment as much will depend on the size of the tank
or the distribution system.
If chlorine test facilities are available, samples of treated water should be taken at tap and
shower outlets at [weekly/monthly]
intervals, preferably using outlets that would otherwise
not be used (e.g. in unoccupied cabins) in order to reduce the presence of standing water in the
system. The result of these tests should be used to adjust the concentration of chlorine in the
system to obtain a minimum of 0.2 ppm at the outlets.
It should be remembered however that if drinking water supplies pass through charcoal
filters close to the outlets, there will be no free chlorine at these points.
It is recommended that, initially a concentration of 0.5 ppm in the storage tanks is aimed for
and this may be achieved by using an automatic chlorination unit in the ship's deck filling line or
by the traditional manual method using the manufacturer's instructions for the chlorine
compound in use or by calculating the quantities required by use of the following table or
formula:
Amount
of chlorine compound
required for
a 0.5 ppm
chlorine solution
Amount of chlorine compound required
Chlorinated
lime
25%
High-test
calcium hypochlorite
70%
Sodium Hypochlorite
solution
5%
10%
for each:
g
g
ml
ml
1,000litres
2
0.8
10
5
10 tonnes
20
8
100
50
Chapter 5 CAUSESAND PREVENTIONOF DISEASE
Water making plant
All water made from seawater by low pressure evaporators or reverse osmosis plant requires to
be treated by means of an automatic chlorination
unit adjusted to give the required
concentration on delivery to the storage tanks, or by an elctro-silver ionisation system.
Ultra violet sterilizer units should only be used as a supplement to chlorination.
Maintenance of distribution system
The various elements of the freshwater system which might include sand filters, evaporators,
reverse osmosis plant, softeners etc., should be inspected, cleaned, flushed out, back washed,
recharged or items replaced where appropriate, in accordance with the maker's instructions
and it is recommended that a Freshwater System Maintenance Log be kept itemising each
principle unit in the system.
Food
A balanced diet is essential for the maintenance of good health and should contain the correct
proportions of protein, carbohydrate, fats, vitamins and essential minerals such as iron. It
should be varied in accordance with the needs of the consumers and the climate in which they
are working. Protein is derived from such foods as meat, fish and beans; carbohydrates from
cereals and bread; and vitamins and essential minerals from all of these and from fruit and
vegetables.
It is also essential to avoid contamination in the food preparation area. Raw food, especially
meat, should be kept separate from cooked products. Separate utensils and cutting boards etc.
must be kept for each and stored separately. The food handler must wash between handling
different foods and especially after handling raw meat and poultry; cooked food should be
manipulated by tools and utensils and not by the hands; and work surfaces and equipment
must be cleaned thoroughly and disinfected efficiently. Cleaning equipment must also be
disinfected adequately.
Vegetables
Fresh vegetables, such as lettuce, radish, carrot, beetroot, celery and spinach should never be
eaten, cooked or raw, without first being thoroughly washed in clean running water.
In many countries such crops are fertilised with human excreta and are, therefore,
potentially dangerous as a source of transmission of intestinal disease such as typhoid,
dysentery and intestinal parasites.
Wherever practicable, boil vegetables before serving. Where the origin of any vegetable to
be eaten raw is not known, it should be soaked for two minutes in a solution of 3.5 g of
stabilised chloride of lime to 5 gallons of water followed by at least two thorough rinsings in
potable water.
Fruit
Fruit, such as oranges, bananas, grapefruit, that must be peeled before eating is generally safe.
Fruit, such as apples, tomatoes, grapes, dates, that is not generally peeled, is a frequent source
of diarrhoea. Before eating they should be treated in the way recommended for raw
vegetables.
Canned foods
Each tin should be carefully examined before being opened. Never accept or use tins which are
rusty, dented, damaged or blown.
Bacteria in food
Bacteria require moisture and warmth for growth. The most favourable temperature for
growth is normal body heat, although most will thrive at temperature between 15°C and 45°(,
Bacteria can multiply very fast in favourable conditions.
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THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Unpreserved foods should therefore be stored in a refrigerator or freezer. When perishable
bulk food packs are opened for use, any unused portion should be resealed and returned to the
refrigerator or freezer as quickly as possible (before defrosting has occurred, if frozen).
When removed from the cold for cooking, food should be thoroughly thawed, carefully
prepared, and heated to a minimum temperature of 63°(, It should be served and eaten at
once, or kept above the minimum cooking temperature if there is to be any delay in serving.
Inadequate defrosting before cooking food, particularly meat and poultry, may mean that the
centre does not reach the minimum temperature to destroy bacteria (i.e. is only partially
cooked). This is a common source of food poisoning. Frozen meat and poultry which have
thawed out should not be refrozen before being thoroughly cooked.
All cooked unconsumed food should be cooled rapidly and stored in a refrigerator for up to
48 hours or in a freezer if it is to be kept for a longer period. Any food to be reheated must be
heated thoroughly to the temperature necessary to kill bacterial contamination. Under no
circumstances should meat products or rice be reheated more than once.
Further guidance is available in Marine Guidance Note 61 (M+F).
In any outbreak or suspected outbreak of food poisoning or illness with diarrhoea on board,
the following steps should always be taken:
• try to identify the food(s) which have caused the outbreak. Make sure that no further
consumption of these foods is possible by discarding them. Keep a sample if near port so
that laboratory identification is possible.
•
inspect all food handlers for general cleanliness and for the points listed. Forbid anyone
who does not meet these standards to handle food. You may thus remove the cause of the
outbreak.
•
inspect all food storage and preparation areas and make sure that good food hygiene
practices are being followed (next section).
•
if near port, keep samples of diarrhoea or vomit (in sealed containers inside a plastic bag in
a cold place, away from catering facilities) so that laboratory identification of the cause
may be possible.
• treat all affected persons and prevent them spreading the disease.
Catering staff: personal hygiene
It is of prime importance that catering staff should maintain a high standard of personal
hygiene. Only by insistence that these standards are maintained will outbreaks of diarrhoea
and of food poisoning be avoided.
The staff should be supplied with, and should wear, clean clothing when handling food.
There should be ample supplies of soap, towels, nail brushes and hot water available for
washing hands, and it is important that thorough washing of the hands follows a visit to the
toilet.
Food handlers should be free from communicable diseases. Anyone suffering from a septic
skin condition should be removed from duty until the condition is cured. A person who has had
an attack of typhoid fever or of dysentery, and who may have become a carrier of the disease,
or who has suffered from an unexplained or unusual illness, should not be allowed to prepare
or handle food or utensils until cleared for such duty by a doctor.
Food handlers should be made aware of their responsibilities for the health of others and
should be educated and trained in good food hygiene practices.
General cleanliness on board ship
Cleanliness, both of the person and the environment, is essential at all times on board ship.
Frequent monitoring by the master and senior officers will help to keep the crew aware of the
necessity to maintain scrupulous cleanliness and will detect infestations.
Cloths for cleaning working surfaces and tables are a common source of infection. They should
regularly be either boiled or soaked in disinfectant (e.g. hypochlorite solution) or replaced. It is
strongly recommended that disposable cloths are used to minimise the risk of contamination.
Chapter 5 CAUSESAND PREVENTIONOF DISEASE
Insecticides
Insecticides should conform to the specification in MSN1726. They should be used only in
accordance with the manufacturer's instructions and the recommendations in M1534. If going
to tropical areas check that you have sufficient appropriate
insecticides to deal with
mosquitoes.
Insecticides are usually carried in two forms:
• a liquid insecticide intended for the destruction of flying insects such as flies and
mosquitoes, and also non-flying insects such as cockroaches, bugs and ants;
•
an insecticide powder intended for use on the body, personal clothing, bedding, blankets
and such like, for the destruction of bugs, fleas and body lice.
In addition there are insecticides in tablet form which have to be heated by, for example, a
low wattage electric lamp. These are used particularly for killing tropical mosquitoes.
It is important to appreciate the difference in practice between the control of flying insects
and non-flying insects:
Flying insects are controlled by spraying the insecticide into the affected space. The spray
diffuses rapidly and will kill the insects in flight. Do not attempt to hit individual insects as
this only wastes the insecticide.
Crawling insects such as cockroaches usually hide and breed in cracks and crevices and in the
spaces behind lockers and cooking stoves. The area around their hiding places should be
thoroughly and liberally sprayed so that they come into contact with the insecticide as they
emerge to feed. As this spraying cannot kill the insects' eggs, it must be repeated at regular
fortnightly intervals to kill the young insects as they hatch.
Bugs may be present in the sheathing, wainscoting, wooden bunks, etc. The surfaces should
be sprayed thoroughly to ensure the rapid destruction of the bugs as they run over the
sprayed area.
The best way to deal with an infestation of bugs in bedding, mattresses, etc. is by means of a
thorough dusting with insecticide powder. The bugs will eventually come into contact with the
powder and be killed.
Disinfection
A disinfectant is a substance used for cleaning instruments, materials, lavatory pans, bed pans,
etc. The instructions on the container should be followed.
An antiseptic has a similar anti-bacterial action, but is generally more suitable for application
to human tissues.
A deodorant dilutes or obscures odours only and has no disinfecting properties.
Disinfestation is the destruction of rats, mice and insects of all kinds which mayor may not
carry disease to humans.
Sterilisation
In ships this term means the destruction of germs by the use of boiling water or steam. It is a very
simple and effective way of rendering free from germs articles of all kinds. Articles to be
sterilised must be boiled for 10 minutes, at least. Boiling cannot, of course, be used to sterilise
certain fabrics which are damaged by boiling, such as those containing wool. A disinfectant
solution must be used for these.
Disinfection at end of illness
Th is term means the disinfection of a room after it has been occupied by an infectious patient.
First remove all bedding, blankets and movable articles of furniture. The bedding and
blankets should be disinfected. The furniture should be left on deck, preferably in the sun,
after having been thoroughly scrubbed. After emptying the cabin, give the whole surface,
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THE SHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
including the bulkheads, deck, ceiling and all internal and external surfaces of cupboards and
such like, a thorough washing down. The principal object is to clean the cabin surfaces,
lockers, etc., and thereby to remove any dust and dirt that may have accumulated and which
may contain germs of the disease. On completion of this procedure the room can safely be
occupied.
A more thorough procedure is necessary in the case of serious infectious illnesses, such as
plague, cholera, typhus, or typhoid fever. At sea, dispose of all bedding, mattresses, etc., and,
after a thorough cleansing of the cabin, close it down and do not use it until authorised to do so
by the Medical Officer of the next port of call. He may consider it desirable to carry out a further
disinfection by other means. He should also be asked to disinfect ashore all the patient's
personal clothing and belongings, remembering that the patient will require his effects, either
during his subsequent stay in hospital or after his discharge from hospital.
Isolation
The isolation of an ill patient will prevent the spread of disease to other persons on board. It is
convenient to categorise isolation into two types:
•
strict;
• standard.
Details of the type of isolation necessary are given in Chapter 6 at the beginning
section dealing with a particular illness.
of each
Strict isolation
The patient is confined to the ship's hospital or to a cabin set aside for his sole use in a quiet part
ofthe ship and which has been stripped of all unnecessary furnishings and carpets to facilitate
cleaning and disinfection.
He must be seen only by the person who nurses him.
If disposable eating and drinking utensils are available, these should be used and later
destroyed. Should ship's dishes and cutlery have to be used, they should be washed and
sterilised after use and kept in the cabin or hospital. They should never be washed up with
utensi Is used by other members of the crew.
All used bed linen and towels should be sterilised by boiling or by disinfection. Faeces and
urine should be passed into bedpans or urine bottles and at sea disposed of in a flushing WC
set aside for the purpose. The attendants should wear disposable gloves when handling these
items and care should be taken not to splash the contents about. The pans and bottles should
be sterilised after use. In port, faeces and urine should not be flushed away but should be
disinfected and disposed of after consultation with the Port Health Authority. It is important
to dispose of any used syringes and needles in the correct way. Place the needle and syringe
into a 'sharps' box (safety container designed for disposing of contaminated sharp items
which could accidentally injure and thus infect another individual). The containers should be
kept in the isolation room until arrival in port when they should be handed to the Port Health
Authority for disposal. The attendant's gloves should be bagged, sealed and disposed of in
the same way.
NOTE: The attendant
should wash his hands each time the gloves are removed.
Standard isolation
The patient is isolated in the ship's hospital or in a cabin set aside for his use. There is no need to
observe the stringent rules for strict isolation. Whilst the patient is ill, visitors should be
discouraged. When he shows signs of recov~ry, this ban can be lifted but visitors should be
instructed to stay only for short periods. Whilst he is convalescing visiting should be encouraged
to relieve boredom.
In certain cases it will be necessary to deal with urine and faeces in accordance with the
procedure for strict isolation, e.g. enteric fever.
Chapter 5 CAUSESAND PREVENTIONOF DISEASE
Ventilation
Adequate ventilation and a free flow of air to the crew accommodation and food stores is
important for the health of all on board ship. This is often arranged by means of a recirculating
air-conditioning system. With such a system, it is obviously undesirable that the air from a room
occupied by an infectious person should be recirculated. Purpose-built ships' hospitals
therefore have separate ventilation systems. However, when a person with an infectious
disease has to occupy a cabin, all possible steps should be taken to prevent contaminated air
from re-circulating. For example, a porthole or external door not subject to an inflow of air
should wherever possible be opened to exhaust the contaminated air.
Port health clearance
Measures for the prevention and control of the spread of epidemic diseases by international
transport are governed by a code of rules which have been drawn up and agreed by practically
all the maritime countries of the world (International
Health Regulations 1969 - Third
Annotated Edition). The Regulations are applied in most countries by Port Health Officers.
A Maritime Declaration of Health should be completed before arrival at the first port of call
in a new country. This, however, only relates to Yellow fever, Pulmonary plague and Cholera.
It is advisable to seek advice and to give information by radio, preferably within 4-12 hours
of the estimated time of arrival at the port, in any of the circumstances described below.
1. The occurrence on board during the voyage of:
• death other than by accident;
•
illnesses where the person concerned had:
• a temperature of 38°C or greater, which was accompanied by a rash or a glandular
swelling or jaundice, or which persisted for more than 48 hours;
• diarrhoea severe enough to interfere with work or normal activities.
2. The presence on board of:
• a person suffering from an infectious disease or who has symptoms which may indicate
the presence of an infectious disease;
• any animal or captive bird of any species including rodents and poultry, noting any
mortality or illness among such animals or birds.
3. Any other circumstances which are likely to cause the spread of infectious disease.
Preventing heat illness
In very hot conditions the minimum of light clothing should be worn to allow the largest
possible surface for free evaporation of sweat. If there is much direct heat from the sun (radiant
heat), light white cotton clothing will reflect the heat and keep the body temperature below
danger limits. Fair-skinned people should remember that they burn more easily and should take
precautions.
Perspiration isthe body's best heat control mechanism
water which must be replaced. The salt is best taken
containing drinks to prevent heat cramp. At least 41itres
ohnode~ate
heat. If working in high temperatures, the
but the sweat consists mainly of salt and
with food and supplemented by saltof fluid is required per day in conditions
requirement may rise to 6-7 litres.
When the ambient temperature is above 32°C in very humid climates, or above 43°C in dry
air, there will be a risk of heat illness, especially when work has to be carried out. This applies
particularly to work in engine-rooms and other enclosed spaces.
Air temperature, movement of air, humidity and radiant heat all combine to cause heat
exhaustion. A number of ships, especially those operating in hot climates, will carry an
hygrometer. This comprises two thermometers, one wet-bulb and one dry-bulb. The readings
of the two thermometers can be used to determine a 'composite temperature' which will give
an indication of the amount of work that can be undertaken per hour in given circumstances.
93
If the composite temperature is above the values in the table, extreme caution should be
exercised in allowing work at all because there will be a risk of heat-stroke. In emergency
conditions where the work must be done, short spells of work (say 10 minutes) may be
permitted but the person must be allowed to cool off completely before being allowed back
into the hot environment.
Exposure
Sunburn, frostbite, heat illness and hypothermia may occur in the course of routine duty, and
must be guarded against. Sunburn, although often only a minor discomfort, can be dangerous.
A person drowsy after drinking alcohol who decides to sleep in the sun may very well wake up
suffering from serious burns. Special care should also be taken against frostbite and
hypothermia (lowering of the body temperature). Hypothermia will most frequently be
present in men who have fallen overboard. Normal body temperature cannot be maintained
in water at temperatures
below 20°C. Discarding clothing and swimming movements
accelerate heat loss. Treatment of heat illnesses and exposure problems are dealt with in
Chapters 7 and 11.
Lifting heavy weights
Backache, sciatica, lumbago and slipped disc are frequently caused by incorrect lifting or by
attempting to lift heavy weights. Ifthe legs are not bent and the object is lifted by straightening
a bent back, there will always be a risk of damage to the spinal column. Leg and thigh muscles
are the most powerful in the body and they should be used when lifting, the torso and head
being kept straight to avoid bending stresses. Crew should be properly instructed in the correct
technique for lifting and carrying heavy weights. They should not be allowed to attempt to
raise excessively heavy objects (see Code of Safe Working Practices for Merchant Seamen).
Exercise and boredom
Very few seafarers aboard ship exercise hard enough to cause them to become breathless or to
increase the rate of their heart-beat. Ideally 20 minutes of aerobic exercise (exercise that raises
the heart rate and makes breathing faster) should be taken twice a week, to help maintain
cardio-vascular fitness. Such regular exercise will also help maintain muscle tone, strength and
mobility. Individuals unused to regular exercise should start training programs gently and seek
advice if in doubt about initial levels. If it hurts, don't do it.
On long, tedious voyages there will be boredom and lack of interest which will also be
detrimental to health and well being. Awareness of the danger is the best protection.
Communicable diseasesare those that are transmissible from
one person, or animal, to another. The disease may be spread
directly, via another species (vector) or via the environment.
Illness will arise when the infectious agent invades the host,
or sometimes as a result of toxins produced by bacteria in
food.
The spread of diseasethrough a population is determined
by environmental and social conditions which favour the
infectious agent, and the relative immunity of the
population. An outbreak of infection could endanger the
operation and safety of the ship. An understanding of the
disease and the measures necessaryfor its containment and
management istherefore important.
Il1fectious agents and examples of
diseases
The organisms that cause disease vary in size from viruses,
which are too small to be seen by a light microscope to
intestinal worms which may be over a metre long. The groups
of infectious agents are listed with examples of diseasesthey
cause.
Bacteria
Pneumonia, tuberculosis, enteric fever, gonorrhoea
Viruses
Measles, varicella, influenza, colds, rabies
Fungi
Ringworm, tinea pedis (athlete's foot)
Protozoa
Malaria, giardia
Metazoa
Tapeworm, filariasis, onchcerciasis (river blindness),
hookworm
Prions
Kuru, Creutzfeld-Jacob disease, Bovine spongiform
encephalopathy (BSE)
Modes of transmission
Direct transmission
•
Direct contact with the infected person as in touching,
kissing or sexual intercourse
•
Droplet spread through coughing sneezing, talking or
explosive diarrhoea
• ;Faecal-oral spread when infected faeces istransferred to
the mouth of a non infected person, usually by hand.
Indirect transmission
•
Indirect transmission of infectious organisms involves
vehicles and vectors which carry disease agents from the
source to the host.
96
THE SHIP CAPTAIN'S MEDICAL GUIDE
Vehicles are inanimate
include:
or non-living
means of transmission
of infectious
organisms. They
• Water. If polluted, specifically by contaminated sewage. Water is the vehicle for such
enteric (intestinal) diseases as typhoid, cholera, and amoebic and bacillary dysentery.
•
Milk is the vehicle for diseases of cattle transmissible to man, including bovine tuberculosis,
brucellosis. Milk also serves as a growth medium for some agents of bacterial diseases such
as campylobacter, a common cause of diarrhoea.
•
Food is the vehicle for salmonella infections (which include enteric fever), amoebic
dysentery, and other diarrhoeal diseases, and poisoning. Any food can act as a vehicle for
infection especially if it is raw or inadequately cooked, or improperly refrigerated after
cooking, as well as having been in contact with an infected source. The source may be
another infected food, hands, water or air.
• Air is the vehicle for the common cold, pneumonia, tuberculosis. influenza, whooping
cough. measles. and chickenpox. Discharges from the mouth. nose, throat, or lungs take the
form of droplets which remain suspended in the air, from which they may be inhaled.
•
Soil can be the vehicle for tetanus, anthrax, hookworm.
and some wound infections.
•
Fomites. This term includes all inanimate objects, other than water, milk, food, air, and soil,
that might playa role in the transmission of disease. Fomites include bedding, clothing and
the surfaces of objects.
Vectors are animate or living vehicles which transmit infections in the following
ways:
•
Mechanical transfer. The contaminated mouth-parts or feet of some insect vectors
mechanically transfer the infectious organisms to a bite-wound or to food. For example,
flies may transmit bacillary dysentery, typhoid, or other intestinal infections by walking
over the infected faeces and later leaving the disease-producing germs on food.
•
Intestinal harbourage. Certain insects harbour pathogenic (disease causing) organisms in
their intestinal tracts. The organisms are passed in the faeces or are regurgitated by the
vector, and the bite-wounds or food are contaminated. (e.g. plague, typhus.)
•
Biological transmission. This term refers to multiplication of the infectious agent during its
stay in the body of the vector. The vector takes in the organism along with a blood meal but
is not able to transmit infection until after a definite period, during which the pathogen
changes. The parasite that causes malaria is an example of an organism that completes the
sexual stages of its life cycle within its vector, the mosquito. The virus of yellow fever also
multiplies in the bodies of mosquitoes.
Terms used in connection with communicable
A carrier is a person who has the infection, either without
recovery from it.
diseases
becoming ill himself or following
A contact is a person who may have been in contact with an infected person.
The incubation period is the interval of time that elapses between a person being infected with
any communicable disease and the appearance of the features of that disease. This period is
very variable and depends upon the infectious agent and the inoculum (the amount of the
infectious agent).
The isolation period signifies the time during which a patient suffering
disease should be isolated from others.
from an infectious
The period of communicability is the time during which a patient who may be incubating
infectious disease following contact can communicate the disease to others.
an
The quarantine period means the time during which port authorities may require a ship to be
isolated from contact with the shore. Quarantine of this kind is seldom carried out except when
serious epidemic diseases, such as, for instance. plague. cholera, or yellow fever are present or
have recently occurred on board.
Chapter 6 COMMUNICABLEDISEASES
Symptoms and signs
In reality it is often very difficult to make an accurate diagnosis of an infectious disease without
laboratory investigations. It may be possible if there are very specific features such as a rash
(varicella) or cluster of suggestive features (regular fever, enlarged spleen and history of
mosquito bites in an endemic area). Because of the difficulty in making an accurate diagnosis on
board ship you may have to give a variety of treatments each directed at different infectious
agents.
Onset
Almost all communicable diseases begin with the patient feeling unwell and perhaps a rise in
temperature. This period may be very short, lasting only a few hours (meningococcal sepsis), or
more prolonged (hepatitis). In some diseases the onset is mild and there is not much general
disturbance of health, whereas in others it is severe and prostrating. During the onset it is rarely
possible to make a diagnosis.
The rash
The diagnosis of some communicable diseases is made easier by the presence of a characteristic
rash. In certain diseases (e.g. scarlet fever) the rash is spread evenly over the body, in others it is
limited to definite areas. When examining an individual suspected to be suffering from a
communicable disease, it is of great importance to strip him completely in order to get a full
picture of any rash and its distribution.
General rules for the management of communicable diseases
Isolation
The principles of isolation are described in Chapter 3 and Chapter 5. If you have a suspicion that
the disease with which you are dealing is infectious it is advisable to invoke isolation
precautions as soon as possible.
Treatment
An essential element in treatment is maintaining the patient's well being. This is achieved
through good general nursing and it is important to ensure that the patient does not become
dehydrated.
Advice on specific medical treatment for infectious diseases which are likely to respond to
specific drugs is given under the sections on treatment for the individual diseases. You may also
be advised to administer drugs to prevent secondary infection occurring.
See Chapter on General Nursing and on how to reduce a high fever.
Diet
Diet will very much depend on the type of disease and severity of fever. Serious fever is
invariably accompanied by loss of appetite and this will automatically tend to restrict diet to
beverages such as water flavoured with lemon juice and a little sugar or weak tea with a little
milk and perhaps sugar.
Essential basic rules
•
Isplate ..If anyone suffers from a temperature
until a diagnosis has been made.
without
•
Strip the patient and make a thorough
to try to establish the diagnosis.
•
Put him to bed, and appoint someone to look after and nurse the patient.
•
Give non-alcoholic fluids in the first instance.
•
If his temperature
examination
obvious cause it is best to isolate him
looking for any signs of a rash in order
exceeds 39.4C make arrangements for tepid sponging.
97
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THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
• Arrange for the use of a bed pan and urine bottle if the patient shows any sign of
prostration or if his temperature is high.
•
If the patient is seriously ill and if in any doubt as to the diagnosis seek RADIO MEDICAL
ADVICE, failing which you should consider the need for making for port.
• Treat symptoms as they arise.
Do not attempt to get the patient up during convalescence if he is feeble, but keep him in
bed until the next port is reached.
When approaching port, send a radio message giving details of the case to enable the Port
Health Authority to make arrangements for the isolation of the case and any contacts on arrival
and Disinfection.
Immunisation and travel advice
It is important that up to date advice on immunisation and the prevalent diseases should be
obtained before arrival in a foreign port. This is most easily available from the following
publications:
Health Information for Overseas Travel, produced by the UK Department of Health, and
International Travel and Health, WHO, Geneva
Anthrax
French: Charbon
German: Milzbrand
Italian: Carbonchio
Spanish: Carbon
Incubation Period: 2 to 7 days, usually 2
Period of communicability: No evidence of transmission from person to person
Isolation Period: No evidence of transmission from person to person
Quarantine Period: None.
Anthrax is an uncommon but serious communicable disease which may occur in man and
animals. It occurs in man either as an infection ofthe skin (malignant pustule), or as an attack on
the lungs or intestines, or as a widely spread infection throughout the body by means of the
blood circulation.
Anthrax is, in man, usually contracted by handling infected animals, skins, hides, or furs. It
can also be conveyed by the consumption of infected or insufficiently cooked meat, or by the
inhalation of dust containing the organism.
Symptoms and signs
In most cases anthrax is accompanied by severe symptoms such as fever and prostration. When
it appears as a skin infection, it begins as a red itching pimple which soon changes into a blister
and within the next 36 hours progresses into a large boil with a sloughing centre surrounded by
a ring of pimples. Alternatively it may take the form of a painless widespread swelling of the
skin which shortly breaks down to form pus in the area.
The gastro-intestinal form of anthrax resembles food poisoning with diarrhoea and bloody
faeces. The lung form develops into a rapidly fatal pneumonia.
Treatment
Should a case of anthrax occur at sea, which is unlikely unless as a result of handling animals,
hides, skins, etc., all dressings or other material that come into contact with the discharge must
be burnt or disposed of by disinfection.
Instruments must be used to handle dressings as far as possible, and the instruments must
subsequently be sterilised by vigorous boiling for not less than 30 minutes, since the spores of
the anthrax germ are difficult to kill.
Treatment is not easy on board and the patient should be put ashore as soon as possible. In
the meantime treatment is with Penicillin
No attempt at surgical treatment (incision or lancing of the sore) should be made as it does
no good. Cover the sore with a dressing.
Seek advice from a Port Health Authority about the treatment of cargo.
Chapter 6 COMMUNICABLEDISEASES
Cellulitis (Erysipelas)
French: Erysipele
German: Erysipel
Incubation Period:1 to 7 days
Period of communicability: None
Isolation Period: None
Quarantine Period: None
Italian: Erisipela
Spanish: Erisipela
This disease is an acute inflammatory condition of the skin caused by a germ entering the body
through a scratch or abrasion. Cellulitis occurs anywhere, but most commonly on the legs, arms
and face.
The onset is sudden with shivering, and a general feeling of malaise. The temperature rises
rapidly and may reach about 40°(, The affected area becomes acutely inflamed and red on the
first or second day of the infection and the inflammation spreads rapidly outwards with a
well-marked, raised, and advancing edge. As the disease advances the portions of the skin first
attacked become less inflamed and exhibit a yellowish appearance. Blisters may appear on the
inflamed area which can be very painful.
General treatment
The patient must be kept in bed during the acute stage.
Specific treatment
Give the patient benzyl penicillin 600 mg followed
can be given to ease the pain.
by oral antibiotic
treatment.
Paracetamol
Chickenpox (Varicella)
French: Varicelle
German: Windpocken
Italian: Varicella
Spanish: Varicela
Incubation Period: 14 to 21 days, usually 14
Period of communicability: Up to 5 days before the onset of the rash and 5 days after the first
crop of vesicles
Isolation Period: Until the vesicles become dry
Quarantine Period: None
This highly infectious disease starts with fever and feeling unwell. Within a day or two the rash
appears on the trunk but soon spreads to the face and elsewhere, even sometimes to the throat
and palate.
The rash starts as red pimples which quickly change into small blisters (vesicles) filled with
clear fluid which may become slightly coloured and sticky during the second day. Within a day
or two the blisters burst or shrivel up and become covered with a brownish scab. Successive
crops of spots appear for up to five days. Although usually a mild disease, sometimes the rash is
more severe and very rarely pneumonia may occur.
Treatment
A member of the crew who has had chickenpox, and therefore has immunity, could make a
suitable nurse. If all of the crew have had chickenpox in the past then there is no need to isolate
the patient. The patient need not be confined to bed unless he is unwell. He should be told not
to scfptch, e,specially not to scratch his face otherwise pock marks may remain for life. Calamine
lotion, if available, dabbed onto the spots may ease the itching.
99
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THE SHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICAL GUIDE
Cholera
French: Cholera
German: Cholera
Italian: Colera
Incubation Period: 1 to 5 days, usually 2-3 days
Period of communicability: Usua Ily for a few days after recovery
Isolation Period: Until diarrhoea has settled
Quarantine period: 5 days
Spanish: Colera
Cholera is a severe bacterial infection of the bowel producing profuse watery diarrhoea,
muscular cramps, vomiting and rapid collapse. Infection occurs principally through drinking
infected water and sometimes through eating contaminated uncooked vegetables, fruit, shell
fish or ice cream. It generally occurs in areas where sanitation is poor and where untreated
sewage has contaminated drinking water. Other bacterial and viral causes of diarrhoea can
sometimes produce a similar clinical picture and may be just as severe.
Symptoms and signs
Most cases are mild and will not be differentiated
from any other form of diarrhoea. In a severe
case the onset is abrupt, the vomiting and diarrhoea extreme with the faeces at first yellowish
and later pale and watery, containing little white shreds of mucus resembling rice grains. The
temperature is below normal, and the pulse rapid and feeble.
The frequent copious watery faeces rapidly produce dehydration. Vomiting is profuse, first
of food but soon changing to a thin fluid similarto the water passed by the bowel. Cramps of an
agonising character attack the limbs and abdomen, and the patient rapidly passes into a state
of collapse.
As the result of the loss of fluid, the cheeks fall in, the ~yes become shrunken and the skin
loses its normal springiness and will not quickly return to its normal shape when pinched.
The body becomes cold and covered with a clammy sweat, the urine is scanty, the breathing
rapid and shallow, and the voice is sunk to a whisper. The patient is now restless, with muscle
cramps induced by loss of salt, and feebly complaining of intense thirst.
This stage may rapidly terminate in death or equally rapidly turn to convalescence. In the
latter case the cessation of vomiting and purging and the return of some warmth to the skin will
herald convalescence.
Treatment
If there is a suspected case of cholera on board RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE ON MANAGEMENT
SHOULD BE OBTAINED PROMPTLY.
The patient should be isolated and putto bed at once. Every effort should be made to replace
fluid and salt loss. Therefore, keep a fluid balance chart. The patient should be told that his life
depends on drinking enough and he should be encouraged and if necessary almost forced to
drink as much as possible until all signs of dehydration disappear (until his urine output is back
to normal). Thereafter he should drink about 300 ml after each stool until the diarrhoea stops.
It is best to drink oral rehydration solution (ORS), ifthis is not available, make up a solution from
20 gm of sugar with a pinch of salt and a pinch of sodium bicarbonate and juice from an orange
in 500 ml sterile water.
Give Doxycycline 200 mg first dose then 100 mg once daily. If vomiting, give an antiemetic tablet or injection before each dose. The patient must be kept in bed until seen by a
doctor.
Caution
Cholera is a disease which is transmitted from person to person. If cholera is suspected, the
ship's water supply must be thoroughly treated to make sure that it is safe. The disposal of
infected faeces and vomit must be controlled, carefully since they are highly infectious. The
hygiene precautions of all attendants must be of an order to prevent them also becoming
infected and all food preparation on board must be reviewed.
Chapter 6 COMMUNICABLEDISEASES
Dengue fever
French: Dengue
German: Denguefieber; Siebentagefieber
Italian: Dengue; Febbra dei sette giorni
Spanish: Fiebre dengue
Incubation Period: 3 to 14 days, usually 7 to 10 days.
Period of communicability: No person to person transmission. Infective for mosquitoes for
about 5 days from just before the end of the febrile period.
Isolation Period: None
Quarantine Period: None
This is an acute fever of about 7 days' duration conveyed by a mosquito. It is sometimes
called break-bone fever. It is an unpleasant, painful disease which is rarely fatal. A severe
form 'of the disease, dengue haemorrhagic fever, can occur in children. Features of the
disease are its sudden onset with a high fever, severe headache and aching behind the
eyeballs, and intense pain in the joints and muscles, especially in the small of the back. The
face may swell up and the eyes suffuse but no rash appears at this stage. Occasionally an
itchy rash resembling that of measles but bright red in colour appears on the fourth or fifth
day of the illness. It starts on the hands and feet from which it spreads to other parts of the
body, but remains most dense on the limbs. After the rash fades, the skin dries and the
surface flakes.
After about the fourth day the fever subsides, but it may recur some three days later before
subsiding again by the tenth day.
General treatment
There is no specific treatment, but paracetamol will relieve some of the pain, and calamine
lotion, if available, may ease the itching of the rash. Control is by removal of Aedes
mosquitoes.
Diphtheria
French: Diphterie
German: Diphterie
Italian: Difterite
Spanish: Difteria
Incubation Period: 2 to 5 days
Period of communicability: Usually lessthan 2 weeks, shorter if the patient receives antibiotics
Isolation Period: 2 weeks
Quarantine Period: None
Diphtheria is an acute infectious disease characterised by the formation of a membrane in the
throat and nose. The onset is gradual and starts with a sore throat and fever accompanied by
shivering. The throat symptoms increase, swallowing being painful and difficult, and
whitish-grey patches of membrane become visible on the back of the throat, the tonsils and the
palate. The patches look like wash leather and bleed on being touched. The neck glands swell,
and the breath is foul. The fever may last for two weeks with severe prostration. Bacterial toxins
may cause fatal heart failure and muscle paralysis.
General treatment
Immediate isolation is essential as diphtheria
aerosols.
is very infectious, the infection being spread by
Specific treatment
<
Specific treatment is diphtheria anti-toxin which should be given at the earliest possible
opportunity if the patient can get to medical attention. Antibiotic treatment should be given to
all casesto limit the spread of infection but it will not neutralise toxin which has already been
produced.
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THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Enteric fever - typhoid
French: Fievre typhoide
German: Typhus abdominalis
Italian: Febbre tifoidea
Spanish: Fiebre tifoidea
Incubation Period: 1 to 3 weeks, depending on size of infecting dose
Period of communicability: Usually less than 2 weeks. Prolonged carriage of salmonella typhi
may occur in some of those not treated.
Isolation Period: Variable.
Quarantine Period: None
The term enteric fever covers typhoid and para-typhoid fevers. Enteric fever is contracted
by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated with typhoid germs. Seafarers
are advised to be very careful where they eat and drink when ashore. Immunisation gives
reasonable protection against typhoid but not para-typhoid.
In general the para-typhoids are milder and tend to have a shorter course.
The disease may have a wide variety of symptoms depending on the severity of the attack.
Nevertheless, typhoid fever, however mild, is a disease which must be treated seriously, not only
because of its possible effect upon the patient, but also to prevent it spreading to others who
may not have been immunised. Strict attention must be given to hygiene and cleanliness and all
clothing and soiled linen must be disinfected.
During the first week the patient feels off-colour and apathetic, he may have a persistent
headache, poor appetite, and sometimes nose bleeding. There is some abdominal discomfort
and usually constipation. These symptoms increase until he is forced to go to bed. At this stage
his temperature begins to rise in steps reaching about 39-40oC in the evenings. For about two
weeks it never drops back to normal even in the mornings.
Any person who is found with a persistent temperature of this kind should always be
suspected of having typhoid, especially if his pulse rate remains basically normal. In 10 to 20%
of cases, from about the seventh day, characteristic rose-pink spots may appear on the lower
chest, abdomen and back, which if pressed with the finger will disappear and return when
pressure is released. Each spot lasts about 3-4 days and they continue to appear in crops until
the end of the second week or longer. Search for them in a good light, especially in
dark-skinned races. During the second week, mental apathy, confusion and delirium may occur.
In the more favourable cases the patient will commence recovery but in the worst cases his
condition will continue to deteriorate and may terminate in deep coma and death. Even where
the patient appears to be recovering, he may suffer a relapse. There are a variety of
complications but the most dangerous are haemorrhage from, or perforation of, the bowel.
Where the faeces are found to contain blood at any stage of the disease the patient must be
kept as immobile as possible and put on a milk and water diet. If the bowel is perforated,
peritonitis will set in.
General treatment
Anyone suspected of having typhoid or para-typhoid fever should be kept in bed in strict
isolation until seen by a doctor. The patient's urine and faeces are highly infectious, as may be
his vomit. These should all be disposed of. The attendants and others coming into the room
should wash their hands thoroughly after handling the bedpan or washing the patient, and
before leaving the room.
The patient should be encouraged to drink as much as possible and a fluid input/output chart
should be maintained. He can eat as much as he wants, but it is best if the food is light.
Specific treatment
If you suspect somebody has enteric fever get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE. Give ciprofloxacin 500
mg every 12 hours for one week. On this treatment the fever and all symptoms should respond
within 4-5 days.
All casesshould be seen by a doctor at the first opportunity. The case notes including details
of the amount of medicine given should be sent with the patient.
Chapter 6 COMMUNICABLEDISEASES
German measles - rubella
French: Rubeole
German: R6teln
Italian: Rosolia
Spanish: Rubeola
Incubation Period: 14 to 23 days, usually 17
Period of communicability: For about 1 week before to at least 4 days after the onset of the rash
Isolation Period: Until 7 days from the appearance of the rash
Quarantine Period: None
German measles is a highly infectious, though mild disease. It has features similar to those of
mild attacks of ordinary measles or of scarlet fever. For the differences in symptoms and signs
see the table.
Usually the first sign of the disease is a rash of spots, though sometimes there will be
headache, stiffness and soreness of the muscles, and some slight fever preceding or
accompanying the rash. The rash is absent in half the casesand lasts from 5 to 6 days.
The glands towards the back of the neck are swollen and can easily be felt. This is an
important distinguishing sign. This swelling will precede the rash by up to 10 days.
General treatment
Give the patient paracetamol, and calamine lotion, if available, for the rash.
Specific treatment
NOTE: Particular care should be taken to isolate patients with German measles from pregnant
women: Any pregnant woman on board should see a doctor ashore as soon as possible so that
her immunity to rubella can be confirmed. If a patient has seen his wife in the last week he
should be asked whether his wife might be pregnant. If so, his wife should be advised to see her
doctor.
Glandular fever - infectious mononucleosis
French: Fievre glandulaire; Mononucleose infectieuse
German: Drusenfieber; Infektiose Mononukleose
Italian: Feb.bre ghiandolare (Mononucleosi infettiva)
Spanish: Fiebre glandular (Mononucleosis infecciosa)
Ihcubation Period: 4 to 6 weeks
Period of communicability: Prolonged, excretion of virus may persist for a year or more
Isolation Period: None
Quarantine Period: None
This malady is an acute infection which is most likely to affect the young members of the crew.
Convalescence may take up to two or three months.
The disease starts with a gradual increase in temperature and a sore throat; a white covering
often develops later over the tonsils. At this stage it is likely to be diagnosed as tonsillitis and
treated as such. However it tends not to respond to such treatment and, during this time, a
generalised enlargement of glands occurs. The glands of the neck, armpit and groins start to
swell, and become tender; those in the neck to a considerable extent. The patient may have
difficulty in eating or swallowing. His temperature may go very high and he may sweat profusely.
Occasionally there isjaundice between the fifth and fourteenth day. Commonly there is a blotchy
skin r~sh on the upper trunk and arms at the end of the first week. Vague abdominal pain is
sometimes a feature. A diagnosis of diphtheria may be considered due to the appearance of the
tonsils, but the generalised glandular enlargement is typical of glandular fever.
General treatment
Paracetamol should be given to relieve pain and to moderate the temperature. Any antibiotics
, which have been prescribed to treat the tonsillitis should be discontinued.
There is no specific treatment. If complications arise get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
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THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Hepatitis (viral)
French: Hepatite: Hepatitis
German: Hepatitis
Italian: Epatite
Spanish: Hepatitis
Incubation Period: 15 to 50 days for hepatitis A, 60 to 90 days for hepatitis B (may be much
longer)
Period of communicability: None after jaundice has appeared in hepatitis A, can be indefinite
for hepatitis B
Isolation Period: During first week of illness
Quarantine Period: None
This is an acute infection of the liver caused by viruses. There are two main causes of acute
hepatitis: hepatitis A and hepatitis B. Two other viruses may cause hepatitis (C and E), but these
are uncommon. The most likely cause will be hepatitis A and this is spread by the faecal-oral
route (as is hepatitis E). Hepatitis B is spread sexually or by contaminated blood or needles.
There is no way of differentiating one type of viral hepatitis from another. The urine and faeces
will show the typical changes associated with jaundice.
Treatment
There is no specific treatment. The patient should be put to bed and nursed in isolation. Plenty
of sweetened fluids should be given until the appetite returns. When the appetite returns a
fat-free diet should be given. No alcohol should be allowed. All cases must be seen by a doctor
at the next port.
Influenza
French: Grippe; Influenza
German: Epidemische Influenza; Grippe
Italian: Influenza
Spanish: Influenza; Grippe
Incubation Period: 1 to 5 days
Period of communicability: 3 to 5 days (7 in children) from the onset of illness
Isolation Period: Often impractical because of the delay in diagnosis. In an outbreak it would be
advisable to keep all affected individuals together and away from those who are well
Quarantine Period: none
This is an acute infectious disease caused by a germ inhaled through the nose or mouth. It often
occurs in epidemics. The onset is sudden and the symptoms are, at first, the same asthose of the
common cold. Later the patient feels much worse with fits of shivering, and severe aching ofthe
limbs and back. Depression, shortness of breath, palpitations, and headaches, are common.
Influenza may vary in severity. Commonly a sharp unpleasant feverish attack is followed by a
prompt fall in temperature and a short convalescence. Pneumonia is a possible complication.
General treatment
The patient should be subject to standard isolation. He should be watched for signs of
pneumonia such as pains in the chest, rapid breathing and a bluish tinge to the lips. He should
be given plenty to drink and a light and nutritious diet if he can manage it.
Specific treatment
There is no specific treatment
paracetamol as needed.
for the uncomplicated
case, but the patient should be given
Chapter 6 COMMUNICABLEDISEASES
Malaria
French: Paludisme
German: Malaria
Italian: Malaria Spanish: Paludismo
Incubation Period: 12 days or more, depending on the type of malaria
Period of communicability: The patient will remain infectious for mosquitoes until they have
been completely treated
Isolation Period: None if in mosquito-proof accommodation
Quarantine Period: None
Malaria is a recurrent fever caused by protozoa introduced into the blood stream by the bite of
the Anopheles mosquito. The malaria-carrying mosquito is most prevalent in districts where
there is surface water on which it lays its eggs. It is a dangerous tropical disease which causes
fever, debility and, sometimes, coma and death.
Malarial areas
Ports between latitudes 25°N and 25°S on the coasts of Africa (including Malagassy), Asia, and
Central and South America should be regarded as infected or potentially infected with malaria.
Enquiries should be made prior to departure to allow appropriate prophylaxis to be arranged
and treatment drugs obtained. Before arrival in port further enquiries should be made asto the
current malaria situation and prophylaxis issued to the crew if necessary.
Prevention of malaria
The risks of attacks of malaria can be very greatly reduced if proper precautions are taken and
the disease can be cured if proper treatment is given. Despite this, cases have occurred in ships
where several members ofthe crew have been attacked by malaria during a single voyage with
severe and even fatal results.
The precautions are:
•
avoidance of mosquito bites;
•
prevention of infection.
Avoidance of mosquito bites
The best way to prevent malarial infection is to take measures to avoid being bitten. The advent
of air conditioned ships has made many traditional preventive measures obsolete. However,
when within two miles of a malarial shore it remains important that:
•
doors are kept closed at all times after dusk;
•
any mosquitoes which enter compartments
•
persons going on deck or ashore after dusk wear long sleeved shirts and trousers to avoid
exposing their arms and legs;
•
no pools of stagnant water are allowed to develop on deck or in life boats, where
mosquitoes might breed.
are killed using insecticide spray;
In ships which are not air conditioned other traditional
mosquitoes should be implemented. These include:
•
measures to protect
against
pla!=ing fine wire mesh over portholes, sky lights, ventilators and other openings;
• scr~ening'lights
to avoid attracting
mosquitoes;
• fixing mosquito nets over beds where accommodation
proof.
spaces cannot be made mosquito
" Prevention of infection
The fewer the bites, the smaller is the risk of infection but even when the greatest care is
exercised it will seldom be possible entirely to prevent mosquito bites either on shore or in the
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THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
ship. For this reason in all caseswhen a ship is bound for a malarial port Masters (in addition to
taking all possible measures to prevent mosquito bites) should control infection by giving
treatment systematically to all the ship's crew.
Preventive treatment (prophylaxis) does not always prevent a person from contracting
malarial infection, but it will reduce the chance of disease.
All persons, therefore, should be warned that they have been exposed to the chance of malaria
infection and that if they fall ill at a later date, they should inform their doctor without delay
that the fever from which they are then suffering may be due to malaria contracted abroad.
The most appropriate prophylaxis will vary with the location as there are different types of
malaria in various parts of the world. There is also increasing resistance to anti-malarials which
will affect their effectiveness. Up to date information should be obtained before departure if
possible or from the local health authorities.
General guidelines
Start taking the prophylaxis before arrival at a malarial area in accordance with specific
instructions and depending on the region. (Usually 1-3 weeks before departure).This will allow
the tolerance and side-effects (if any) of the prophylactic drug to be assessed. Prophylaxis
should be continued for 4 weeks after leaving the malarial area so as to ensure all stages of the
parasite have been killed.
No drugs forthe treatment of malaria are specified in the MSN 1726 as the advice varies with
destination and the pattern of disease in any given malarial area at the time.
For information, the UK's present guidelines recommend 3 different regimes depending on
destination:
•
Proguanil 200 mg once daily and chloroquine 300 mg weekly
•
Mefloquine
•
Maloprim (a combined tablet of dapsone and pyrimethamine)
chloroquine 300 mg weekly
250 mg once weekly
1 tablet weekly and
Other regimes may be used in areas of high level resistance
Treatment of malaria
Features of the illness
Malaria cannot be diagnosed with certainty without laboratory assistance. If the person has
been in a potentially malarial area within the last few months and has a fever they should be
assumed to have malaria. The characteristic patterns of fever associated with malaria (fever
every 2 to 3 days) may not be obvious. The illness may progress rapidly without many features
other than fever and sweating. There will often be a severe headache. If there is any doubt
about whether to treat or not get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
General treatment for mild or severe malaria
The patient should be put to bed in a cool place and his temperature, pulse and respiration
taken four hourly. If body temperature rises to 400( or over, cooling should be carried out.
The temperature should be taken and recorded at 15 minute intervals until it has been normal
for some time. Thereafter the four-hourly recording should be resumed until the attack has
definitely passed.
Specific treatment for mild or severe malaria
Anti-malarial drugs are not specified in MSN 1726 as treatment depends on the area and
patterns of resistance. If anti-malaria Is are to be carried seek appropriate advice on which to
obtain/use.
The following examples of current regimes are given for information:
•
Quinine 600 mg every 8 hours for 7 days followed by Fansidar (see below) 3 tablets as a
single dose
or
•
Mefloquine
500 mg (2 tablets) for 2 doses 8 hours apart
Chapter 6 COMMUNICABLEDISEASES
Chloroquine is not used for treatment except for proven single infections with vivax and
other benign malarias because of drug resistance. If quinine, Fansidar or mefloquine are not
available then chloroquine 300 mg 8 hourly for three doses then 300 mg daily for 2 days should
be used.
If the patient is unable to take medicine by mouth or is vomiting then quinine 600 mg should
be given by intramuscular injection every 8 hours. As soon as the patient is able to swallow it
should be given by mouth. Quinine may produce ringing in the ears or dizziness, but this should
not normally be a reason to stop treatment.
NOTE: All patients who have been treated for malaria or suspected malaria must see a doctor at
the next port because further medical treatment may be necessary.
Measles
French: Rougeo/e
German: Masern
Italian: Morbiflo
Spanish: Sarampion
Incubation Period: 7 to 18 days usually 10 until onset offever, 14 days until rash
Period of communicability: about 10 days, minimally infectious after the second day of the rash
Isolation Period: 4 days after onset of rash
Quarantine Period: None
Measles does not often occur in adults. See also the sections on German measles and scarlet
fever and the table of differences of symptoms.
The disease starts like a cold in the head, with sneezing, a running nose and eyes, headache,
cough and a slight fever 37.5°C-39°C. During the next two days the catarrh extends to the
throat causing hoarseness and a cough. A careful examination of the mouth during this period
may reveal minute white or bluish white spots the size of a pin's head on the inner side of the
cheeks, or the tongue and inner side of the lips. These are known a 'Koplik spots' and are not
found in German measles and scarlet fever.
The rash appears on the fourth day when the temperature increases to 39-40°C. Pale
rose-coloured spots first appear on the face and spread down to cover the rest of the body. The
spots run together to form a mottled blotched appearance. The rash deepens in colour as it gets
older. In four orfive daysthe rash begins to fade, starting where it first appeared. The skin may peel.
The main danger of measles is that the patient may get bronchitis, pneumonia or middle ear
infection.
General treatment
This highly infectious disease is conveyed to others when the patient coughs or sneezes.
There is no specific treatment, but the patient may have paracetamol. Calamine lotion, if
available, may be applied to soothe the rash.
Meningococcal disease (meningitis and septicaemia)
French: Meningite cerebro-spinal epidemique
German: Epidemische Meningitis Cerebro-spinal
Italian: Meningite cerebro-spinal epidemica
Spanish: Meningitis cerebro-spinal epidemica
Incubation Period: 2 to 10 days, usua Ily 3 to 4
Period of communicability: Generally not communicable whilst the patient is on antibiotics
Isolatio" Period: For 24 hours after the start of antibiotics
Quarantine Period: None
Infection caused by the meningococcus (a bacterium) can cause either meningitis, with
inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord, or a septicaemia
characterised by a generalised rash that does not fade on pressure. Unless treated promptly and
effectively, the outcome is nearly always fatal. It occurs in epidemics which may affect closed
communities such as a ship. The infection enters by the nose and mouth.
Meningitis starts suddenly with fever, considerable headache and vomiting. Within the first
day the temperature increases rapidly to 39°C or more and the headache becomes agonising.
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THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Vomiting increases and there is general backache with pain and stiffness in the neck.
Intolerance of light (photophobia) is usually present. The patient may be intensely irritable and
resent all interference, or may even be delirious.
As the meningitis develops the patient adopts a characteristic posture in bed, lying on the
side with his back to the light, knees drawn up and neck bent backwards. Unconsciousness with
incontinence may develop.
The septicaemia caused by the meningococcus also starts suddenly with a flu like illness. A
rash develops quickly, starting with pin prick like spots which will not blanche when pressed.
This rash may progress to form large dark red areas.
Individual cases may vary in the speed of onset, the severity of the illness and the clinical
features which are present.
If meningitis is suspected get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE and it will help the doctor if the results
of the two following tests are available:
The neck bending test
Ask the patient to attempt to put his chin on his chest. In meningitis the patient will be unable to do
so because forward neck movement will be greatly restricted by muscle contraction. Try to increase
the range of forward movement by pushing gently on the back of his head. The neck muscles will
contract even more to prevent the movement and the headache and backache will be increased.
The knee straightening test
- Figure 6.1
A. Bend one leg until the heel is
close to the buttock.
B. Move the bent leg to lie over
the abdomen.
c.
Keeping the thigh as in (B) try
to straighten the lower leg.
In meningitis it will be impossible
to straighten the knee beyond a
right angle and attempts to force
movement
will
increase the
backache.
General treatment
The patient should be nursed in a
quiet, well-ventilated room with
shaded lights in strict isolation. He
should be accompanied at all
times by an attendant who should
wear a face mask to cover his nose
and mouth. Tepid sponging may
be necessary and pressure points
should be treated. Usually there is
no appetite but he should be
encouraged to drink plenty of
fluid. Ice packs may help to relieve
the headache.
Specific treatment
Give benzyl penicillin 3 g intramuscularly at once, and get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE as to the
amount and frequency of subsequent injections of benzyl penicillin. Until such advice is
received, give benzyl penicillin 2.4 g at six hourly intervals.
The headache should be treated with codeine. The patient should come under the care of a
doctor as soon as possible.
Chapter 6 COMMUNICABLEDISEASES
Mumps
French: Oreillons
Italian: Malaria Orecchioni
German: Mumps - Ziegenpeter
Spanish: Orejones
Incubation Period: 12 to 26 days, usually 18
Period of communicability: 7 days before glandular swelling and up to 9 days after
Isolation Period: 9 days after swelling started
Quarantine Period: None
Mumps is a viral disease which causes the swelling ofthe salivary glands in front of the ears and
around the angle of the jaw. The swelling usually affects both sides of the face though it may
only affect one side and it may make the mouth difficult to open. The onset is usually sudden
and may be accompanied by a slight fever. The swelling gradually diminishes and should
disappear entirely in about 3 weeks.
About 20% of men with mumps get orchitis which is the swelling of one or both testicles;
when this occurs it usually happens around the tenth day. Whilst very painful, orchitis does not
usually result in infertility and never in impotence.
General treatment
The patient should be put in standard isolation for 9 days and stay in bed for 4 to 5 days or until
the fever is no longer present. He can be given paracetamol to relieve the symptoms, but there
is no specific treatment.
If he develops swollen painful testicles (orchitis) he should stay in bed. He should support the
scrotum on a pad or small pillow. The testicles should also be supported if the patient gets up for
any reason.
Plague
French: Peste
German: Pest
Italian: Peste
Spanish: Peste
Incubation Period: 2 to 6 days
Period of communicability: As long as infected fleas are present. Person to person spread is
uncommon except with plague pneumonia.
Isolation Period: For 3 days after the start of antibiotic treatment
Quarantine Period: 6 days
Plague is a serious bacterial disease transmitted
three ways
to man by infected rat fleas. It may present in
Bubonic in which buboes (swollen lymph nodes) are the most obvious feature. The nodes are
painful and may ooze pus.
Pneumonic in which pneumonia is the main feature. The type of plague is very infectious as
the sputum contains the plague bacterium.
Septicaemic which is rapidly fatal.
The attack begins suddenly with severe malaise, shivering, pains in the back and sometimes
vomiting. The patient becomes prostrated and is confused. His temperature reaches about
380C C and the pulse is rapid. After about 2 days the buboes may develop, most commonly in
the groins. The buboes may soften into abscesses.
General treatment
The patient should be cared for by an attendant who should wear a face mask to cover his
nose and mouth The patient should be isolated and taken as soon as possible to a port
where he can be treated. He should rest in bed, be encouraged to drink as much fluid as
possible and have a very light diet. If the abscesses burst they should be dressed with a
simple dressing, but they must not be lanced. Soiled linen and bed clothes should be boiled
for 10 minutes or destroved.
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THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Specific treatment
Give Doxycycline 100 mg once daily for at least 5 days. The patient should remain on complete
bed rest during convalescence.
Prevention
Plague should be notified to the local health authorities at the next port of call. The quarters of
the patient and the crew should be treated with insecticide powder and dust to ensure the
destruction of fleas.
Warning
Dead rats should be picked up with tongs, placed in a plastic bag, which should be sealed with
string, weighted and thrown overboard; if the ship is in port, the dead rats should be disposed
of in the manner required by the port medical health authority.
Poliomyelitis - infantile paralysis
French: Poliomyelite
Italian: Poliomielite
German: Poliomyelitis
Spanish: Poliomielitis
Incubation Period: 3-21 days, commonly 7-14 days
Period of communicability: Casesare most infectious during the first few days before and after
the onset of symptoms
Isolation Period: Not more than 7 days
Quarantine Period None
Poliomyelitis is an acute viral disease that occurs mostly in children. It is a disease almost
entirely preventable by immunisation.
The severity ranges from non-apparent infection to non-specific febrile illness, meningitis,
paralytic disease and death. Symptoms of the mild disease include fever, malaise, headache,
nausea and vomiting. If the disease progresses, severe muscle pain and stiffness of the neck and
back, with or without paralysis will occur. The most commonly affected parts are the legs and
arms, shoulders, diaphragm and chest muscles. The development of paralysis is generally
complete within two days and then recovery begins. The recovery may be complete or leave
some degree of paralysis
Affected muscles are usually painful and tender if touched. They are always limp and
movements of the affected parts are either weakened or lost by the wasting which appears very
soon after paralysis.
Paralysis of the respiratory muscles may cause breathlessness and blueness of the lips.
General treatment
There is no specific treatment but much can be achieved by good nursing. The patient should
have complete rest in bed. Pain should be treated with paracetamol and/or codeine.
If a limb has been affected it should be supported by pillows in such a way that the paralysed
muscles cannot be stretched. The joints above and below the paralysis should be put through a
full range of movement morning and evening to prevent stiffness.
In all cases, as soon as paralysis appears, RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE must be sought. If the
respiratory muscles are affected, breathing difficulty may ensue. Urgent steps must be taken to
get the patient to skilled hospital treatment as soon as possible.
Chapter 6 COMMUNICABLEDISEASES
Rabies - hydrophobia
French: La rage
German: Tollwut
Italian: Rabbia
Spanish: Rabia
Incubation Period: in humans the incubation period is usually 2 to 12 weeks, shortest for
patients bitten about the head and those with extensive bites
Communicability: Rabies is rarely, if ever, spread from human to human. Nevertheless for the
duration of the illness contamination with saliva should be avoided by wearing gloves when
nursing the patient
Isolation Period: Duration of the illness
Quarantine Period:
Rabies is an acute infectious viral disease that is almost always fatal. When a rabid mammal
bites humans or other animals, its saliva transmits the infection into the wound, from where
it spreads to the central nervous system. Rabies is primarily an infection of wild animals such
as skunks, coyotes, foxes, wolves, racoons, bats, squirrels, rabbits, and chipmunks. The most
common domestic animals reported to have rabies are dogs, cats, cattle, horses. mules, sheep,
goats, and swine. It is possible for rabies to be transmitted if infective saliva enters a scratch
or fresh break in the skin.
The development of the disease in a bitten person can be prevented by immediate and
proper treatment, Once symptoms of rabies develop, death is virtually certain to result. Thus
prevention of this disease is of the utmost importance.
Local port authorities should be informed of possible rabid animals, so that appropriate
public health measures can be instituted.
Treatment
As soon as an individual aboard ship Is known to have been bitten by a dog or other possibly
rabid animal, RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE should he obtained at once. Usually suspected cases
are sent ashore to obtain the expert treatment and nursing care needed to prevent the
disease.
Immediate local care should be given. Vigorous treatment to remove rabies virus from the
bites or other exposures to the animal's saliva may be as important as specific anti-rabies
treatment. Free bleeding from the wound should be encouraged. Other local care should
consist of:
• thorough
irrigation of the wounds with soap or detergent water solution;
• cleansing with antiseptic solution;
•
if recommended by radio, giving an antibiotic to prevent infection:
•
administering
•
Suturing of bite wounds should be avoided.
adsorbed tetanus toxoid, if indicated.
Prevention
When abroad, seamen should keep away from warm-blooded animals especially cats, dogs.
and other carnivores. It is strongly advised that pets should not be carried on board ship as
these may become infected unnoticed, through contact with rabid animals in ports.
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Scarlet fever
French: Scarlatine
German: Scharlach
Italian: Scarlattina
Spanish: Escarlatina
Incubation Period: 1 to 3 days
Period of communicability: 3 days
Isolation Period: 14 days in untreated cases, 1 to 2 days if given antibiotics.
Quarantine Period: None
Scarlet fever is not often contracted by adults. It has features similar to those of measles and
German measles; see the table of differences of symptoms.
The onset is generally sudden and the temperature may rapidly rise to 39.5 to 40°C on the first
day. With the fever the other ma in early symptom isa sore th roat, wh ich in most casesisvery severe.
The skin is hot and burning to the touch. The rash appears on the second day and consists of tiny
bright red spots so close together that the skin assumes a scarlet or boiled lobster-like colour. It
usually appears first on the neck, very rapidly spreads to the upper part ofthe chest and then to the
rest of the body. There may be an area around the mouth which is clear of the rash. The tongue
at first is covered with white fur and, when this goes, it becomes a very bright red (strawberry).
The high fever usually lasts about a week. As the rash fades the skin peels in circular patches.
The danger of scarlet fever arises from the complications associated with it, e.g. inflammation
of the kidneys (test the urine for protein once a day), inflammation of the ear due to the spread
of infection from the throat, rheumatism and heart disease. These complications can be
avoided by careful treatment.
General treatment
The patient must stay in bed and be kept as quiet as possible. The patient can be given
paracetamol to relieve the pain in the throat which may also be helped if he takes plenty of cold
drinks. He can take such food as he wishes.
Specific treatment
As scarlet fever usually follows from a sore throat or tonsillitis you may already be giving him
the relevant treatment. Otherwise give the specific treatment for tonsillitis.
Tetanus -lockjaw
French: Tetanos
German: Wundstarrkrampf
Italian: Tetano
Spanish: Tetanos
Incubation Period: 4 to 21 days
Period of communicability: No person to person transmission
Isolation Period: None
Quarantine Period: None
Tetanus is caused by the infection of a wound by the tetanus bacterium which secretes a
powerful poison (toxin). This bacterium is very widespread in nature and the source of the
wound infection may not always be easy to trace. Puncture wounds are particularly liable to be
dangerous and overlooked as a point of entry. In the UK immunisation against the disease
usually begins in childhood but it is necessary to have further periodic inoculations to maintain
effective immunity. Fortunately the disease is a very rare condition on board ship.
The first signs of the disease may be spasms or stiffening of the jaw muscles and, sometimes,
other muscles of the face leading to difficulty in opening the mouth and swallowing. The
spasms tend to become more frequent and spread to the neck and back causing the patient's
body to become arched. The patient remains fully conscious during the spasms which are
extremely painful and brought on by external stimulus such as touch, noise or bright light. The
patient is progressively exhausted until heart and lung failure prove fatal. Alternatively, the
contractions may become lessfrequent and the patient recovers, but there is a high mortality.
Treatment
The patient should be isolated in a darkened room as far as possible from all disturbances. Get
RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE. Give antibiotic treatment and give diazepam or chlorpromazine as
sedation and to control spasms. The patient must be got to hospital as soon as possible.
Chapter 6 COMMUNICABLEDISEASES
Tuberculosis - TB, consumption
French: Tuberculose
German: Tuberkulose
Italian: Tuberculosis
Spanish: Tuberculosis
Incubation Period: 4 to 12 weeks
Period of communicability: indefinite, 2 weeks after antibiotics
Isolation Period: depends on the degree of infection, rarely necessary
Quarantine Period: None
This infectious disease is caused by the tubercle bacillus. Although the lung (pulmonary) disease
is the most common, T8 bacteria may attack other tissues in the body: bones. joints. glands, or
kidneys. Unlike most contagious diseases, tuberculosis usually takes a considerable time to
develop, often appearing only after repeated, close, and prolonged exposures to a patient with
the active disease. A healthy body is usually able to control the tubercle bacilli unless the
invasion is overwhelming or resistance is low because of chronic alcoholism, poor nutrition, or
some other weakening condition.
The pulmonary form of the disease is spread most often by coughing and sneezing.
A person may have tuberculosis for a long time before it is detected. Symptoms may consist
of nothing more than a persistent cough, slight loss of weight, night sweats, and a continual
'all-in' or 'tired-out' feeling that persists when there is no good reason for it. More definitive
signs pointing to tuberculosis are a cough that persists for more than a month, raising sputum
with each cough. persistent or recurring pains in the chest, and afternoon rises in temperature.
When he reaches a convenient port, a seaman with one or more of these warning signs
should see a physician.
Treatment
Every effort should be made to prevent anyone who has active tuberculosis from going to sea.
since this would present a risk to the crew's health as well as the individual's.
The treatment of tuberculosis by medication will not usually be started at sea, since the
disease does not constitute an emergency.
To prevent the spread of tuberculosis, every patient with a cough, irrespective of its cause,
should hold disposable tissues over his mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and place
the used tissues in a paper bag, which should be disposed of by burning.
The medical attendant should follow good nursing isolation techniques (see Isolation
Chapter 3). No special precautions are necessary for handling the patient's bedclothes, eating
utensils, and personal clothing.
Tuberculosis control
A tuberculosis control programme has three objectives: (I) to keep individuals with the disease
from signing on as crew-members; (2) to locate those who may have developed the disease while
aboard ship and initiate treatment: and (3) to give preventive treatment to persons at high risk of
developing the active diseas~. The first objective can be achieved by periodic, thorough physical
examinations including chest X-rays and bacteriological examination of sputum.
To identify those who might have developed active tuberculosis, a chest X-ray should be
taken and a medical evaluation including bacteriological examination of sputum requested
when in port, if a crew-member develops symptoms of a chest cold that persist for more than
two weeks.
Also, when any active disease is discovered, survey should be made of close associates of
the patient and others in prolonged contact with him. Such persons are regarded as contacts
and are considered at risk from the disease; they should be given a tuberculin test and
chest X-ray when next in port. If they develop symptoms, full medical examination, including
bacteriological examination of sputum, should be requested.
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Typhus fever
French: Typhus exanth\Aematique
Italian: Tifo petecchiale
German: Flecktyphus
Spanish: Tifus petequial
Incubation Period: 6 to 15 days, usua Ily 12
Period of communicability: Not directly transmissible from person to person
Isolation Period: not required after de-lousing
Quarantine Period: 14 days
This disease should not be confused with typhoid fever. Typhus is caused by a small bacterium.
The disease is conveyed by lice, fleas, ticks and mites. Treatment for the various types of typhus
is the same and the symptoms are very similar. The main typhi are epidemic (from lice) and
murine, or ship typhus, (from rat fleas).
Symptoms and signs
Onset is sudden with headache, vomiting, shivering and nausea. The temperature rapidly rises
and may reach 40.00C to 40.6°(, The patient suffers great prostration, and may be delirious or
confused.
About the fifth day a rash appears on the front of the body, spreading to the back and limbs
in the form of dusky red spots which give the skin a blotchy appearance. The disease if
untreated lasts about two weeks. With tick or mite borne typhus there is usually a punched out
black ulcer (eschar) which corresponds to the site of attachment.
Treatment
In the case of louse-borne typhus isolate the patient at once. Bedding and clothing of the
patient and close contacts should be treated with a residual insecticide.
The patient should receive Doxycycline until his temperature settles plus one day. The
response is normally prompt.
Whooping cough - pertussis
French: Coqueluche
German: Keuchhusten
Italian: Pertosse
Spanish: Tos Ferina
Incubation Period: 7 to 10 days, rarely exceeding 14 days
Period of communicability: 21 days, normally no more than 5 days after antibiotics
Isolation Period: 5 days after antibiotics
Quarantine Period: None
This disease occurs among unvaccinated children; unvaccinated adults may contract it. The disease
in adults has no typical features.
Symptoms and signs
The onset occurs as a severe cough which after about 7 to 10 days is marked by a typical
'whoop', with or without vomiting. The whoop is caused by a convulsive series of coughs
reaching a point where the patient must take a breath. It isthis noisy indrawing of breath which
produces the 'whoop'. The coughing bouts may be very distressing.
Treatment
Give erythromycin for 5 days. This is unlikely to affect the course of the disease unless given very
early, but it will reduce the infectiousness of the patient.
In children, during the bouts of coughing, feeding may induce vomiting. It is best, therefore,
to give light food in between the coughing bout and to keep the child quiet in bed.
Chapter 6 COMMUNICABLEDISEASES
Yellow fever
French: Fievre jaune
German: Gelbfieber
Italian Febbra gialla
Spanish: Fiebra amarilla
Incubation Period: 3 to 6 days
Period of communicability: 6 days
Isolation Period: 12 days only if stegomyia mosquitoes are present in the port or on board
Quarantine Period: 6 days
This is a serious and often fatal disease which is caused by a virus transmitted to humans by a
mosquito. The disease is endemic in Africa from coast to coast between the south of the Sahara
and Kenya, and in parts of the Central and Southern Americas.
Prevention
Travellers to these areas should be inoculated against the disease. Many countries require a
valid International Certificate of yellow fever inoculation for those who are going to, or have
been in or passed through, such areas. See also the note on prevention of mosquito bites in the
section dealing with malaria.
Features of the disease
The severity of the disease differs between patients. In general, from 3 to 6 days after being
bitten the patient fluctuates between being shivery and being over hot. He may have a fever as
high as 41°C, headache, backache and severe nausea and tenderness in the pit of the stomach.
He may seem to get slightly better but then, usually about the fourth day, he becomes very
weak and produces vomit tinged with bile and blood (the so-called 'black vomit'). The stomach
pains increase and the bowels are constipated. The faeces, if any, are coloured black by digested
blood. The eyes become yellow Uaundice) and the mind may wander. After the fifth or sixth day
the symptoms may subside and the temperature may fall. The pulse can drop from about 120
per minute to 40 or 50. This period is critical leading to recovery or death. Increasing jaundice
and very scanty, or lack of, urine are unfavourable signs. Protein in the urine occurs soon after
the start of the illness and the urine should be tested for it.
General treatment
The patient must go to bed and stay in a room free from mosquitoes.
The patient must be encouraged to drink as much as possible, fruit juices are recommended.
115
The following diseases are transmitted by sexual contact:
gonorrhoea, chlamydia infections, chancroid, genital herpes,
trichomoniasis,
syphilis,
chlamydia
lymphogranuloma,
granuloma inguinale, genital warts, pubic lice, scabies, viral
hepatitis B and human immunodeficiency virus"
Sexually transmitted
diseases in sailors are generally
acquired through
unprotected
casual and promiscuous
sexual contacts, often with prostitutes.
The most common symptoms of sexually transmitted
diseases include discharge, redness and swelling of the
genitalia, genital ulcers, lymph node enlargement, warts,
and the presence of lice or mites on or in the skin. In some
sexually transmitted diseases a single organ is affected. while
in others the infection spreads. throughout the body.
Clinical and laboratory facilities are necessary for accurate
diagnosis of sexually transmitted
diseases. Since such
facilities are not likely to be available on board ship, the
medical attendant can make only a presumptive diagnosis,
based on rough clinical criteria. If the ship is more than one
day from port, the medical attendant should start antibiotic
treatment
immediately when a sailor is thought to be
suffering from a sexually transmitted disease. The subjective
and objective symptoms, treatment,
and response to
treatment should be carefully recorded.
On arrival in port, the patient should be referred as soon
as possible to a specialist who can perform the appropriate
diagnostic tests and, if necessary, give additional treatment.
If possible, all sexual contacts of the patient should be
traced and told to seek medical advice.
In case of any doubt concerning diagnosis or treatment,
RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE should be obtained.
Urethritis and urethral discharge
Urethritis is characterised by a discharge from the orifice of
the urethra, a burning sensation and pain on urination, or an
itch atthe end ofthe urethra. Urethritis may be caused by the
gonococcus (gonorrhoea) or chlamydia.
Gonococcal urethritis tends to produce more severe
symptoms than non-gonococcal urethritis. The incubation
time of gonococcal urethritis can range from I to 14 days,
but is usually 2-5 days. The discharge is generally abundant,
yellow, creamy and purulent.
Non-gonococcal
urethritis
is generally
caused by
chlamydia, but in some cases, no causative organism can be
found. The discharge in non-gonococcal urethritis is usually
scanty, watery, mucoid or serous.
In men, a careful distinction must be made between
urethritis and balanitis or posthitis, in which there are
secretions from the glans penis and the prepuce (foreskin).
Wearing disposable gloves, carefully retract the prepuce to
determine the origin ofthe discharge or secretions.
In women, the same organisms that cause urethritis can
cause infection of the cervix of the uterus and the urethra. In
more than 60% of women with such infections, there are no
visible symptoms. In the remaining cases,the principal sign is
an increase in the vaginal discharge (see also Vaginal
discharge).
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THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Associated infections
Rectal infection
The organisms that cause urethritis can also infect the rectum. The main symptoms are a
discharge of pus, sometimes mixed with blood, and itching around the anus.
Conjunctivitis
Male and female patients with urethritis may also develop an infection of the conjunctivae of
the eye.
Treatment
It is not generally possible to make a definitive diagnosis of the cause of urethritis without
laboratory facilities. Treatment must therefore be effective for both gonococcal and nongonococcal infections, and must take account of the facts that the patient may be infected with
more than one type of organism, and that some strains of gonococcus are resistant to penicillin.
Patients should be given Ciprofloxacin 250 mg as a single and Doxycycline, one 100 mg capsule or
tablet twice daily for 7 days.
This treatment should be effective for all urethral and rectal infections. If the patient also has
conjunctivitis, 1% tetracycline ointment should be applied to the eye 3 times daily for one
week. About one week after completion of treatment, the patient should attend a specialist
clinic to verify that he is no longer infected.
Swollen scrotum
A swollen scrotum can be defined as an increase in volume of the scrotal sac, accompanied by
oedema and redness. It is sometimes associated with pain (or a history of pain), urethral
discharge, and a burning sensation on urination (see Urethritis and urethral discharge). The
swelling of the scrotum is usually confined to one side.
Among ships' crews most cases of swollen scrotum are caused by inflammation of the
epididymis, produced by sexually transmitted organisms. Such a cause should be strongly
suspected in patients with urethral discharge or a recent history of it. The onset of epididymitis
is often acute, but in some cases, it may develop over 24-48 hours. There may initially be an
'unusual sensation' in the scrotum, which is rapidly followed by pain and swelling. The pain is of
a dragging, aching nature.
This condition must be distinguished from testicular twisting (see testicular pain, Chapter 7).
In the latter case, the testis can become non-viable within 4-6 hours of onset of vascular
obstruction. This condition occurs most frequently in children and is very rarely observed in
adults over the age of 25. The presence of a history of urethritis would exclude the diagnosis. In
cases of testicular twisting the testicle is often slightly retracted and elevation of the scrotum
does not decrease the pain. This condition needs urgent referral. Other conditions that may
lead to scrotal swelling include trauma (injury), inguinal hernia, mumps, and tumours.
Balanitis and posthitis
Balanitis is an inflammation of the glans of the penis, and posthitis is an inflammation of the
prepuce. The two conditions may occur simultaneously (balanoposthitis).
Lack of good
hygiene, in particular in uncircumcised males, is a predisposing factor, as is diabetes mellitus.
In balanitis and balanoposthitis, a mild to profuse superficial secretion may be present. This
must be carefully distinguished from urethral discharge. Wearing disposable gloves, retract the
prepuce in order to determine the origin of the secretion.
Other signs include itching and irritation, causing considerable discomfort. Sometimes, the
penis is swollen and retraction of the prepuce may be painful. Redness, erosion (superficial
defects), desquamation of the skin of the prepuce, and secretions of varying aspects and
consistency can be observed.
Treatment
The glans of the penis and the prepuce should be washed thoroughly with warm water
antiseptic three times daily. Fluconazole 150 mg as a single dose should be given. If there is no
improvement within one week, the patient should be referred to a specialist ashore.
Chapter 6.1 SEXUALLYTRANSMITTEDDISEASES
Genital ulcers
Genital ulcers are a common reason for consultation, particularly in tropical countries. If not
treated appropriately serious complications may arise from some of these conditions. Ulcers
may be present in a variety of sexually transmitted diseases, including chancroid, genital
herpes, syphilis, chlamydiallymphogranuloma,
and granuloma inguinale.
The prevalence ofthese diseasesvaries according to geographical area. In Africa and SouthEastAsia, for instance, chancroid isthe most common causeof genital ulcers, whereas in Europe
and the USA, herpes genitalis is most common. Chlamydiallymphogranuloma
and granuloma
inguinale are much lesscommon, and occur mainly in specific areas of the tropics. Chlamydial
lymphogranuloma is endemic in West Africa and South-East Asia, while granuloma inguinale is
prevalent in east Africa, India, certain parts of Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Surinam. Each
ofthese diseasesis described in more detail in the following pages.
Patients with one of these diseases usually complain of one or more sores on the genitals
or the adjacent area. If the ulcer is located on the glans penis or on the inside of the prepuce,
uncircumcised males may complain of penile discharge or of inability to retract the prepuce.
In females, ulcers may be situated on the vulva, in which case the patient may complain of a
burning sensation on urination.
Disposable gloves should be worn when examining the ulcers. The medical attendant
should note the number and the characteristics of the lesions and the presence of lymph node
swellings in the groin. Painless, indurated lesions can generally be attributed to syphilis;
painful sores that bleed easily are attributable to chancroid; vesicular lesions that develop
into superficial erosions or small ulcerations probably indicate herpes infection. Double
infections are not uncommon, however, the clinical symptoms are often not sufficiently
discriminatory to enable a definite diagnosis to be made without the help of laboratory tests.
Knowledge of the relative importance of each disease in the area is crucial for a specific
therapeutic approach. The recommended regimen is therefore aimed at curing the most
frequently encountered diseases, chancroid and syphilis.
Treatment
Give simultaneously: 2.5 million units of benzylpenicillin, in one dose, intramuscularly and
ciprofloxacin 250 mg orally. If the patient is allergic to penicillin, give Doxycycline 100 mg, by
mouth, 2 times a day for at least 2 weeks.
When patients with syphilis are treated with penicillin,
the
so-called
JarischHerxheimer reaction may occur (see Syphilis). Bed rest should be advised for patients
suffering from very painful genital ulcerations and lymph node swelling, and for those
feeling severely ill.
As soon as treatment has started, patients should no longer be regarded as infectious
and no special hygienic measures need to be applied. On arrival at the next port patients
should be referred to a specialist together with all relevant information concerning their
medical history.
Chancroid
Chancroid, almost always acquired during sexual intercourse, is caused by a bacterium. The
incubation period (the time following the infecting contact to the initial appearance of
symptoms) is short, usually averaging 3-5 days. The lesions are usually only seen in men; in
women, clinical lesions are rare, but ulcers may be located in the vagina. The first lesion
usually appears as a small inflamed bump, soon forming a blister or pustule, which breaks
down within 2-3 days to become a very painful ulcer.
The classic chancroid ulcer (primary lesion) is superficial and shallow, ranging from a few
millimetres to 2 cm in diameter. The edge usually appears ragged and is surrounded by a red
zone. The base of the ulcer is covered by a necrotic exudate and bleeds easily. In contrast to
the syphilitic chancre, the lesion is soft, and extremely painful and tender.
In males the most frequent sites of infection are the inner and outer side of the prepuce
and the groove separating the head from the shaft ofthe penis.
About 1-2 weeks after the appearance of the primary lesion, the glands in the groin
become enlarged, painful, and tender (buboes) (see Lymph node swelling, and Lymphatic
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THE SHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
inflammation, Chapter 7). At first, the swellings appear hard and matted together, but they
soon become painful and red. Some time later, the lymph nodes may enlarge, become
fluctuant, and discharge pus.
Treatment
Give the patient Doxycycline 100 mg 2 times daily for 7 days. Ifthe buboes persist or become
fluctuant, RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE should be sought.
Genital herpes
Genital herpes is caused by a virus; the disease can follow an asymptomatic course, the virus
being harboured within the nerves to the skin without producing symptoms. Usually,
however, genital herpes in men appears as a number of small vesicles on the penis, scrotum,
thighs, or buttocks. The fluid-filled blisters are usually painful, but sometimes produce only a
tingling sensation. Within a day or two the blisters break, leaving tiny open sores which take
1-3 weeks to heal. Lymph glands near the site of infection may react by becoming swollen
and tender.
In most cases, a clinical diagnosis can be made on the basis of the appearance of the lesions,
in particular at the blister stage. At specialised clinics, laboratory tests may be used to confirm
the diagnosis.
After the sores are healed, the virus remains dormant in the body. Weeks or months later,
there may be recurrence of the active infection. These recurrent attacks tend to become less
frequent with time and to be less severe than the initial attack, and the lesions tend to heal
more quickly.
Treatment
A definite cure for genital herpes is not yet available. Lesions should be kept clean by washing
the affected sites with soap and water, followed by careful drying. Analgesics may be given to
reduce discomfort.
If you are in any doubt about whether the diagnosis of genital herpes is correct, the patient
should be managed as described under Genital ulcers.
Syphilis
Syphilis is caused by a spirochaete which enters the body through the mucous membranes of
the genitals, rectum, or mouth, or through small cuts or abrasions in ordinary skin.
The clinical course of syphilis is usually divided into three stages. The lesions of the primary
and secondary stages are usually painless and cause little disability. They may heal without
treatment, and the disease can lie dormant in the body for several years. In the late stages
syphilis can cause serious damage to the brain, spinal cord, heart, and other organs.
The first stage, primary syphilis, is characterised by the presence of a sore (or chancre) at
the point where the spirochaetes enter the body. There is a delay of 10-90 days (average 3
weeks) after contact before the onset of any visible sign of infection. Following the
appearance of the initial chancre, there can be an additional delay of a few weeks before
the blood test for syphilis will become positive. The typical chancre occurs in the groove
separating the head from the shaft of the penis. However, a chancre may occur anywhere
on the body where there has been contact with an infected lesion. Such lesions are usually
single, but there may be more than one. The primary chancres are often smooth and cleanlooking on the surface. Sometimes the lesion ulcerates and leaves a reddish sore with the
base of the ulcer covered by a yellow or greyish exudate. Unless there is also infection with
other bacteria or with herpes virus, the ulcer will be painless. The lesion has a characteristic
firmness (like cartilage) when felt between the thumb and forefinger
(gloves must be
worn)
Often there will be one or more rubbery, hard, painless, enlarged lymph nodes in one or
both groins, or in other regions if the sore is not on the genitals. In the presence of a
secondary infection, the nodes may be tender. Usually these lesions will heal spontaneously
within 6 weeks. At the chancre stage, the patient is highly contagious
Chapter 6.1 SEXUAllY TRANSMITTEDDISEASES
The secondary stage of syphilis usually develops about 6-8 weeks after the appearance
of the primary chancre. In fact, the primary syphilitic chancre may still be present at the
time of onset of the secondary stage. However, the secondary stage may be the first
ma n ifestation, occurri ng some 10-14 weeks after the infected contact. The most consistent
feature of secondary syphilis is a non-itching skin rash, which may be generalised in the
form of small, flat or slightly elevated pink spots, which gradually darken to become dark
red in colour. They may be particularly localised on the palms, soles, or genital areas. A less
frequently encountered sign is patchy loss of scalp hair. Patients with secondary syphilis
may complain of malaise (not feeling well), headache, sore throat, and a low-grade fever
(38.5 C). The presence of these symptoms plus a generalised rash and/or a rash involving the
palms and the soles, which does not itch, and is associated with enlarged small lymph nodes
in the neck, armpits and groins, should arouse suspicion of secondary syphilis. Other signs
of the secondary stage may be the occurrence of moist sores, particularly in the genital
area, or of flat, moist warts in the anogenital region. It should be noted that moist lesions
of secondary syphilis are teeming with spirochaetes and are thus highly infectious. In the
untreated patient the diagnosis is confirmed by microscopic examination of the lesions and
by a blood test for syphilis.
The symptoms of the secondary stage will eventually disappear without treatment. The
disease then enters the latent (hiding) phase, before reappearing as tertiary syphilis many
years later.
Treatment
Patients with suspected syphilis should be given 2.5 million units of benzylpenicillin in a single
dose, administered intramuscularly. If the patient is allergic to penicillin, give either 100 mg of
Doxycycline by mouth, 2 times a day for 14 days or 500 mg of erythromycin by mouth, 4 times a
day for 14 days. The patient should be referred to a specialist clinic at the next port of call.
Caution. When treated with antibiotics, about 50% of patients with primary or secondary
syphilis will develop the so-called Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction, which usually appears 6-12
hours after the injection. This reaction is characterised by fever, chills, joint pain, increased
swelling of the primary lesions, or increased prominence of the secondary rash. It is caused by
the sudden destruction of a great number of spirochaetes and should not give rise to alarm.
Analgesics may help to reduce the symptoms.
Chlamydiallymphogranuloma
Chlamydial lymphogranuloma
is a systemic disease of venereal origin. The incubation time
ranges from 4 to 21 days. The primary lesion is usually an ulcer, a vesicle, a papule or a pustule,
not more than 5-6 mm in size and often located on the groove on the head of the penis in the
male patient. Commonly single, the lesion is painless, transient, and heals in a few days without
scar formation. in most cases, the patient does not even notice this primary ulcerative lesion.
After the lesion has healed, the commonest symptom in heterosexual men is acute swelling of
the lymph nodes in the groin, often on one side only. The swelling starts as a firm hard mass,
which is not very painful, and usually involves several groups of lymph nodes. Within 1-2 weeks,
the glandular mass (bubo) becomes attached to the skin and subcutaneous tissue and painful
fluctuation occurs, followed by formation of pus. Not all buboes become fluctuant, some
evolve into firm masses. Perforation of a bubo may occur, whereupon pus of varying aspect and
consistency will be discharged. If not treated, chlamydiallymphogranuloma
can produce severe
scarring in the urogenital and rectal regions.
Treatment
Rest in bed is recommended for patients with chlamydiallymphogranuloma.
An ice-bag may be
applied to the inguinal region for the first two or three days of treatment to help relieve local
discomfort and tenderness.
The patient should be given 100 mg of Doxycycline by mouth, twice daily for at least 2 weeks
or 500 mg of erythromycin by mouth, 4 times daily, for at least 2 weeks. Fluctuating buboes
require aspiration. If the bubo persists, RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE should be sought.
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Granuloma inguinale
Granuloma inguinale is an infectious bacterial disease, with insidious onset. The sites usually
affected are the genitals, the groin, the upper legs next to the groin, and the perianal and oral
regions. The incubation period ranges from 17 to 50 days.
The earliest cutaneous lesion may be a papule or a nodule, which ulcerates, producing a single,
enlarging, beef-like, velvety ulcer, or a coalescence of several ulcers. The typical ulcer in this
disease is a raised mass, looking more like a growth than an ulcer. It has a smooth, elevated edge,
sharply demarcated from the surrounding skin. There is no lymph node swelling and the general
health of the patient is good. If not treated, the lesions may extend to adjacent areas of the body.
The diagnosis can usually be made on the basis of the typical clinical picture. At specialised
clinics microscopic examination of crushed tissue smears is used to confirm the diagnosis in the
untreated patient.
Treatment
The patient should be given Doxycycline 100 mg 2 times a day for at least 2 weeks. The patient
should be referred to a specialist clinic at the next port of call.
lymph node swelling
Lymph node swelling is the enlargement of already existing lymph nodes. It is unusual for
lymph node swelling to be the sole manifestation of a sexually transmitted disease. In most
cases, inguinal lymph gland swelling is accompanied by genital ulcers, infection of the lower
limbs, or, in a minority of cases,severe urethritis. The swelling may be accompanied by pain and
may be on one or both sides. Pain and/or fluctuation can sometimes be evoked by palpation.
The lymph node swelling may be regional (for instance in the groin in the presence of genital
ulcers, etc.) or may involve more than one region (for instance in the case of secondary syphilis
or human immunodeficiency virus infection).
The prepuce of patients suffering from lymph node swelling should always be retracted
during examination in order to detect genital ulcers or scars of genital ulcers.
Treatment
The patient should be treated as described under Genital ulcers. If no improvement
within one week, RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE should be obtained.
is noted
Vaginal discharge
Sexually transmitted diseases in women often produce an increase in the amount, or a change in
the colour or odour, of vaginal secretions. Vaginal discharge is probably the most common
gynaecological complaint. It may be accompanied by itching, genital swelling, a burning
sensation on urination, and lower abdominal or back pain.
Various infections can produce such symptoms.
Trichomoniasis is a common disease, particularly in tropical areas. It is characterised by a
sometimes foul-smelling, yellow, or green foamy discharge.
Vaginal candidiasis is also a very common disease throughout the world. It is characterised by a
white, curd-like discharge, vulvar itching, and sometimes a red and swollen vulva and vagina.
Bacterial vaginosis is very common. In general, there is no itch. The typical discharge is a grey
sometimes foamy, fishy-smelling paste.
Other infections, e.g., gonorrhoea, may produce a white or yellow, watery or purulent
discharge.
Infection with herpes virus usually produces painful lesions (redness, blisters, ulcers) on the
vulva.
It should be remembered that more than one infection may be present at a time.
Treatment
In a situation without gynaecological examination facilities and in the absence of laboratory
equipment the following practical approach should be followed. First the patient should be
Chapter 6.1 SEXUALLYTRANSMITTEDDISEASES
treated for trichomoniasis and/or bacterial vaginosis (treatment A). If the condition does not
improve, this treatment should be followed by an anti-gonococcal and anti-chlamydial treatment
regimen (treatment B). If the symptoms still persist, an anti-candidiasis treatment (treatment C)
should follow, or the patient should be referred to a specialist at the next port of call.
Treatment A
Give metronidazole
2.0 g, by mouth, in a single dose.
Treatment 8
Give Doxycycline 100 mg, by mouth, 2 times a day for 7 days.
Treatment C
Fluconazole 150 mg, by mouth as a single dose.
Pelvic Inflammatory disease - Salpingitis
Pelvic inflammatory disease is a general expression covering various pelvic infections in women,
caused by micro-organisms, which generally ascend from the lower genital tract (vagina, cervix)
and invade the mucosal surface ofthe uterus, the fallopian tubes, and the peritoneum.
Pelvic inflammatory disease, caused by sexually transmitted pathogens, is a major cause of
infertility and chronic abdominal pain, and may result in ectopic pregnancy. A vigorous
approach to treatment is therefore justified.
The symptoms include mild to severe lower abdominal pain on one or both sides associated
with fever and vaginal discharge (see Vaginal discharge).
The use of an intra-uterine (coil) device may be associated with the development of pelvic
inflammatory disease. It should be noted that it is difficult to diagnose pelvic inflammatory
disease without appropriate gynaecological and laboratory investigations; moreover, it isdifficult
to differentiate this disease from other causesof acute abdominal pain, e.g., appendicitis.
Treatment
In a case of suspected pelvic inflammatory disease, RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE should be
obtained.
The treatment is Doxycycline, 100 mg twice daily for 14 days in combination with
metronidazole, 1.0 g, by mouth, twice daily, for 14 days.
Caution. Patients should abstain from alcohol during treatment.
Genital warts
Genital warts are caused by a virus, and occur most frequently in young adults. In male patients,
warts may be present on the penis, around the anus, and in the rectum. In females, the usual
sites of infection are the vulva, the area surrounding the anus, and the vagina. Warts are soft,
flesh-coloured, broad-based or pedunculated lesions of variable size. They may occur singly, or
several may coalesce to form a large mass, often with a cauliflower-like appearance. Small warts
cause little discomfort, but large genital or anal warts are embarrassing and uncomfortable to
the patient and are liable to ulcerate; secondary infection and bleeding may then occur.
Diagnosis is usually made on clinical grounds.
Treatment
There is no appropriate treatment that can be given on board ship. The patient should be
referred to a specialised clinic at the next port of call.
Pubic lice
Pubic lice are nearly always sexually transmitted. The infection has become endemic in many
countries, usually affecting young adults. The main symptom is moderate to severe itching.
leading to scratching, redness, irritation and inflammation. The lice may be observed as small
brown spots in the groin and around the genitals and anus. The nits attached to the hairs may
be seen with the aid of a magnifying glass.
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Treatment
Lindane cream, 1%, should be applied to the affected areas (pubic area, groin, and perianal
region) at 8-hour intervals over a period of 24 hours. The patient should take a shower
immediately before each application. At the end of the 24-hour period, the patient should
again shower, and put on clean clothes.
Scabies
Scabies, caused by a mite, is now recognised as a sexually transmitted disease in industrialised
countries. The most common symptom is itching, particularly at night. The lesions are roughly
symmetrical.
The usual sites of infection are the finger webs, sides of the fingers, wrists, elbows, axillary
folds, around the female breasts, around the umbilicus, the penis, the scrotum, buttocks and
the upper part of the back of the thighs.
With the naked eye, only papules, excoriations and crusts may be seen. Using a magnifying
glass, it is possible to detect the burrows ofthe mites.
Diagnosis is usually made on the basis ofthe clinical picture. At specialised clinics microscopic
examination of skin samples can be performed, to detect the female scabies mite and her eggs.
Treatment
A thin layer of lindane cream, 1%, should be applied to the entire trunk and extremities and left
for 8-12 hours. At the end of this period. the patient should take a shower or a bath, and
change his clothes and bed linen.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
HIV infection is an increasing cause of premature death in both the developed and developing
world. In the majority of casesspread is by sexual contact. HIV infects the white cells responsible
for immunity to disease and as the infection develops so the patient's immunity to infection
decreases and they become increasingly vulnerable to life-threatening
infections. There are
effective drugs which can slow down the progression of the disease very considerably. These
drugs are expensive and only available to a small minority of patients. The majority of HIV
infected patients in the developing world will not survive more than 5 years. HIV infection was
originally called AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) because of the characteristic
pattern of infections which developed in the first patients observed. This term is now of limited
use as the original description of the disease bares little resemblance to the disease as it now
exists outside the developed world.
HIV is present in the majority of the body fluids of an infected person. Nearly all infections
result from contact with semen, vaginal secretions, blood or blood products. HIV is not
transmitted through normal social contact, including kissing. All those with HIV infection
should be regarded as infectious, whether or not they have symptoms of the disease.
Within a few weeks of infection the patient may experience a glandular fever like illness.
Often this goes unnoticed, but occasionally the patient may be seriously unwell. At this point
the HIV antibody test becomes positive. Following this the patient may be perfectly well for
several years before developing serious infections. The first signs of HIV disease depend upon
the exposure of the patient to infectious diseases. In poorer countries, where standards of
housing and hygiene are low, patients will present, within 2 to 3 years, with diarrhoea, chest
infections including tuberculosis and septicaemia. The patients have often lost a lot of weight
and complain of fevers and tiredness. In developed countries patient may go many years before
presenting with pneumonia, unusual skin cancers, meningitis and malignant tumours.
Treatment
Nearly all the infections that cause illness in patients with HIV can be treated with antibiotics. It
is only the diseases that occur late on in HIV infection that require more complicated and
expensive treatments. These diseases all require laboratory tests to make the diagnosis. Several
drugs are effective at limiting the development of HIV and these have dramatically altered the
Chapter 6.1 SEXUALLYTRANSMITTEDDISEASES
natural course of the disease which usual ended in death within 10years. The use of these drugs
requires frequent monitoring ofthe HIV infection.
Prevention
There is no vaccine available. Appropriate anti-viral therapy can prevent the spread of disease
from mother to baby. It can also reduce the chance of infection following a needlestick injury.
The most common way in which infection is spread is by sexual contact. Many prostitutes in the
developing countries of Asia and Africa are HIV positive. Unprotected sexual intercourse with
one of these prostitutes carries a very considerable risk of HIV transmission. The risk of
transmission is greatly increased if either partner has another sexually transmitted disease,
particularly genital ulcers. One way of reducing HIV transmission is to detect and treat sexually
transmitted
diseases. Barrier contraceptives and spermicides provide very considerable
protection to HIV infection, but are not foolproof.
Proctitis
Proctitis is an infection of the rectum, often caused by sexually transmitted pathogens. In
symptomatic infections, a discharge of pus from the anus, sometimes mixed with blood, can be
observed. Itching around the anus may be present.
In females, proctitis is usually due to a secondary infection with vaginal discharge containing
gonococci (see Vaginal discharge and Rectal infection). In male homosexuals, proctitis is caused
by anal sexual contact with an infected person.
Treatment
Patients should be treated according to the regimens outlined for urethritis and urethral
discharge. If there is no response to treatment within one week, RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE
should be obtained.
Treatment centres at ports
Many ports have one or more specialist centres, where seafarers can obtain treatment for
sexually transmitted diseases. Where they exist, these centres should be used in preference to
the services of a general practitioner, since they have ready accessto the necessary laboratory
facilities, and experience of dealing with a large number of cases of sexually transmitted
disease.
The clinic staff will advise on any further treatment and tests that may be necessary. A
personal booklet is given to the seaman, in which is recorded the diagnosis (in code) and the
treatment given, and which he should take with him if he visits a clinic in another port.
Instructions for medical attendants
The medical attendant should wear disposable gloves when examining any infected site in
patients suspected of suffering from sexually transmitted disease. If the attendant accidentally
touches any genital ulcer or discharge, or any material contaminated with pus from ulcers or
discharge, he should immediately wash his hands thoroughly with soap and water.
If there is a sore on the penis or discharge from the urethra, a clean gauze dressing should be
kept on the penis. This dressing should be changed frequently. In female patients suffering
from genital ulcers or vaginal discharge, gauze or sanitary pads should be used.
Conta m inated materia Isshou Id be discarded in plastic bags, so that they wi II not be touched
or handled by others.
Instructions for patients
The patient should
from infection. He
instance, he should
and his own clothes
avoid all sexual contact until a medical specialist confirms that he is free
should also make a special effort to practice good personal hygiene; for
use only his own toilet articles (toothbrush, razor, towels, washcloth etc.)
and linen.
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During the examination and treatment, the opportunity should be taken to inform the
patient about his condition, sexually transmitted diseases in general, and the precautions to be
taken to minimise the risk of acquiring them (see below).
Prevention of sexually transmitted disease
Being outside their normal environment and often in circumstances that allow for promiscuity,
sailors are at special risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.
Avoidance of casual and promiscuous sexual contacts is the best way of minimising the risk of
infection. Failing this, a mechanical barrier, such as a condom, can give both heterosexual and
homosexual men and women a certain degree of protection against a number of sexually
transmitted diseases. A supply of condoms should be available on board ship. The condom or
rubber, is a thin elastic covering that forms a protective sheath over the penis. If properly used,
it should prevent infection during intercourse, unless the point of contact with an infected
lesion is beyond the area covered by the condom The condom comes rolled before use. It must
be placed over the penis before sexual contact. The tip of the condom should be held to form a
pocket to receive the ejaculate and the rest of the condom unrolled to cover the entire penis. As
soon as the male has had an orgasm, the penis should be withdrawn from the vagina before it
softens, because loosening of the condom may expose the penis to infection. The condom is
removed by grasping the open end with the fingers and pulling it down quickly so that it comes
off inside out. The condom should be discarded without further handling in case it contains
infectious material.
In women, the use of a diaphragm in combination with a spermicide cream offers some
protection against the acquisition of some sexually transmitted diseases; however, condoms
offer better protection. In risk situations, both partners should urinate at once after possible
exposure. Each partner should subsequently wash his or her genitals and other possible
infected areas.
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THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
CARDIOVASCULAR
SYSTEM - HEART AND BLOOD VESSELS
Chest (Heart) pain
With any suspected heart pain get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
When the calibre of the coronary arteries becomes narrowed by degenerative change,
insufficient blood is supplied to the heart and, consequently, it works less efficiently. The heart
may then be unable to meet demands for extra work beyond a certain level and whenever that
level is exceeded, attacks of heart pain (angina) occur. This can be compared to a 'stitch' of the
heart muscle. Between episodes of angina the patient may feel well.
Any diseased coronary artery is liable to get blocked by a blood clot. If that blockage occurs
the blood supply to a localised part of the heart muscle is shut off and a heart attack (coronary
thrombosis) occurs.
Angina (Angina Pectoris)
Angina usually affects those of middle age and upward. The pain varies from patient to patient
in frequency of occurrence, type and severity. It is most often brought on by physical exertion
(angina of effort) although strong emotion, a large meal or cold conditions may be additional
factors. The pain appears suddenly and it reaches maximum intensity rapidly before ending
after two or three minutes. During an attack the sufferer has an anxious expression, pale or grey
face and may break out in a cold sweat. He is immobile and will never walk about. Bending
forward with a hand pressed to the chest is a frequent posture. Breathing is constrained by pain
but there is no true shortness of breath.
During the attack the patient will describe a crushing or constricting pain or sensation felt
behind the breast bone. The sensation may feel as if the chest were compressed in a vice and it
may spread to the throat, to the lower jaw, down the inside of one or both arms - usually the
left - and maybe downwards to the upper part of the abdomen.
Once the disease is established attacks usually occur with gradually increasing frequency and
severity.
General treatment
During an attack the patient should remain in whatever position he finds most comfortable.
Afterwards he should rest. He should take light meals and avoid alcohol, tobacco and exposure
to cold. He should limit physical exertion and attempt to maintain a calm state of mind.
Specific treatment
Pain can be relieved by sucking (not swallowing) a tablet of glyceryl trinitrate 0.5 mg or using
the metered dose spray. The tablet should be allowed to dissolve slowly or the spray directed
under the tongue. These tablets can be used as often as necessary and are best taken when the
patient gets any symptoms indicating a possible attack of angina. Tell the patient to remove any
piece of the tablet which may be left when the pain has subsided since glyceryl trinitrate can
cause a throbbing headache. The glyceryl trinitrate 0.5 mg may also be taken before any activity
which is known to induce an angina attack.
If the patient is emotional or tense and anxious, give him diazepam 5 mg three times daily
during waking hours, and if sleepless 10 mg at bed time. The patient should continue to rest
and take the above drugs as needed until he sees a doctor at the next port.
WARNING: Sometimes angina appears abruptly and without exertion or emotion even when
the person is resting. This form of angina is often due to a threatened or very small coronary
thrombosis (see below), and should be treated as such, as should any attack of anginal pain
lasting for longer than 10 minutes.
Coronary thrombosis (myocardial infarction)
A heart attack happens suddenly and while the patient is at rest more frequently than during
activity. The four main features are pain of similar distribution to that in angina, shortness
of breath, vomiting and degree of col/apse which may be severe. The pain varies in degree
Chapter 7 OTHERDISEASES
AND MEDICALPROBLEMS
from mild to agonising but it is usually severe. The patient is often very restless and tries
unsuccessfully to find a position which might ease the pain. Shortness of breath may be severe
and the skin is often grey with a blue tinge, cold and covered in sweat. Vomiting is common in
the early stage and may increase the state of collapse.
In mild attacks the only symptom may be a continuing anginal type of pain with perhaps
slight nausea. It is not unusual for the patient to believe mistakenly that he is suffering from a
sudden attack of severe indigestion.
General treatment
The patient must rest at once, preferably in bed, in whatever position is most comfortable until
he can be taken to hospital. Exertion of any kind must be forbidden and the nursing attention
for complete bed rest carried out. Restlessness is often a prominent feature which is usually
manageable if adequate pain relief is given. Most patients prefer to lie back propped up by
pillows but some prefer to lean forward in a sitting position to assist breathing. A temperature,
pulse and respiration cnart should be kept at 'Iz hourly intervals. Smoking and alcohol should be
forbidden.
Specific treatment
If available, give one Aspirin tablet (150-300mg) by mouth. Oxygen should be given, in as high
a flow rate as possible. Whatever the severity of the attack it is best to give all cases an initial
dose of morphine 10 -15 mg and an anti-emetic at once. In a mild attack it may then be possible
to control pain by giving codeine 60 mg every 4 to 6 hours. If the patient is anxious or tense, in
addition give diazepam 5 mg three times a day until he can be placed under medical
supervision. In serious or moderate attacks, give morphine 15 mg with an anti-emetic three to
four hours after the initial injection. The injection may be repeated every four to six hours as
required to obtain pain relief. Get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
Specific problems in heart attacks
If the pulse rate is less than 60 per minute get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
If the heart stops beating get the patient onto a hard flat surface and give chest compression
and artificial respiration at once.
If there is obvious breathlessness the patient should sit up. If this problem is associated with
noisy, wet breathing and coughing give frusemide 40 mg intramuscularly, restrict the fluids,
start a fluid balance chart and get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
Paroxysmal tachycardia
This is a condition which comes in bouts (paroxysms) during which the heart beats very rapidly.
The patient will complain of a palpitating, or fluttering or pounding feeling in the chest or
throat. He may look pale and anxious and he may feel sick, light-headed or faint. The attack
starts suddenly and passes off after several minutes or several hours just as suddenly. If the
attack lasts for a few hours the patient may pass large amounts of urine. The pulse will be
difficult to feel because of the palpitations, so listen over the left side of the chest between the
nipple and the breast bone and count the heart rate in this way. The rate may reach 160 - 180
beats or more per minute.
General treatment
The patient should rest in the position he finds most comfortable. Reassure him that the attack
will pass off. Sometimes an attack will pass off if he takes and holds a few very deep breaths or
if he makes a few deep grunting exhalations. If this fails, give him a glass of ice cold water to
drink.
Specific treatment
Ifthese measures do not stop an attack, give diazepam 5 mg. Check the heart rate every quarter
of an hour. If the attack is continuing get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
129
Chapter 7 OTHERDISEASES
AND MEDICAL PROBLEMS
Phlebitis
Inflammation of a vein (phlebitis) with accompanying clotting of the blood within the affected
vein is a common complication of varicosity. The superficial veins or the veins deep within the
leg may be affected and more often those of the calf than the thigh.
In superficial inflammation the skin covering a length of vein becomes red, hot and painful
and it is hard tothetouch. Some localised swelling is usually present and sometimes the leg may
be generally swollen below the inflammation. A fever may be present and the patient may feel
unwell. Inflammation of a deep vein is much lessfrequent but it has more serious consequences.
In such cases there are no superficial signs but the whole leg may be swollen and a diffuse
aching will be present.
General treatment
In all cases of deep vein phlebitis, the patient should be confined to bed and the affected leg
should be kept completely at rest. A bed-cradle should be used. Bed rest should continue until
the patient is seen by a doctor at the next port.
Mild cases of superficial phlebitis need not be put to bed. The affected leg should be
supported by a crepe bandage applied from the foot to below the knee. Swelling of the leg
should be treated by sitting with the leg elevated and supported on a pillow after working
hours. Anti-inflammatories
such as Diclofenac may be useful.
Cases of more extensive superficial phlebitis may require bed rest if the symptoms are
troublesome or if feverish.
Varicose ulcer
When varicose veins have been present for a number of years the skin of the lower leg often
becomes affected by the poor circulation. It has the appearance of being thin and dry with itchy
red patches near the varicosity. Slight knocks or scratching may then lead to the development of
ulceration, which invariably becomes septic.
General treatment
The patient should be nursed in bed with the leg elevated on pillows to reduce any swelling.
The ulcer should be bathed daily using gauze soaked in antiseptic solution. A paraffin gauze
dressing, covered by a dry dressing thick enough to absorb the purulent discharge, should be
applied under a bandage after the bathing. Varicose ulcers are often slow to heal and the
patient should see a doctor at the next port.
RESPIRATORY SYSTEM - CHEST AND BREATHING
Asthma
Asthma is a complaint in which the patient suffers from periodic attacks of difficulty in
breathing out and a feeling oftightness in the chest, during which time he wheezes and feels as
if he is suffocating. The causes of asthma are unknown but there is abnormal airway sensitivity
to irritants. These may be:
•
inhaled, e.g., dust, acrid fumes, solvents or simply cold air, or
•
ingested, e.g., shellfish or eggs;
• acute anxiety;
• certain chest diseases, e.g. chronic bronchitis, acute viral or bacterial chest infection.
Asthma may begin at any age. There is usually
occurred from time to time in the patient's life.
The onset of an attack may be slow and preceded
may occur suddenly. Sometimes the attack occurs at
particularly at 0400 when the body's natural steroids
a previous history of attacks which have
by a feeling of tightness in the chest, or it
night after the patient has been lying flat
are at their lowest.
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In the event of a severe attack, the patient is in a state of alarm and distress, unable to
breathe properly, and with a sense of weight and tightness around the chest. He can fill up his
chest with air but finds great difficulty in breathing out, and his efforts are accompanied by
coughing and wheezing noises due to narrowing of the air tubes within his lungs. His distress
increases rapidly in severe cases and he sits or stands, as near as possible to a source of fresh air,
with his head thrown back and his whole body heaving with desperate efforts to breathe. His
lips and face, at first pale, may become tinged blue and covered with sweat, while his hands and
feet become cold. His pulse is rapid and weak, and may be irregular. Fortunately, less severe
attacks, without such great distress, are more common. He may only manage short sentences or
odd words in a staccato fashion.
An attack may last only a short while, but it may be prolonged for many hours. After an
attack, the patient may be exhausted, but very often he appears to be, and feels, comparatively
well. Unfortunately
this relief may only be temporary and attacks may recur at varying
intervals.
Asthma must not be confused with suffocation due to a patient having inhaled something
e.g., food into his windpipe.
General treatment
The patient should be put in a position he finds most comfortable
up. If he is emotionally distressed try to calm him.
which is usually half sitting
Specific treatment
A person who knows that he is liable to attacks has usually had medical advice and been
supplied with a remedy. In such cases the patient probably knows what suits him best and it is
then wise merely to help him as he desires and to interfere as little as possible. He should be
allowed to select the position easiest for himself.
Otherwise advise the patient to inhale 2 puffs (1 puff for children) from a salbutamol inhaler,
('puffer' often blue), every six hours. To use the inhaler:
• Shake the container thoroughly;
•
Hold the container upright;
• Tilt the head back and breathe out fully;
• Close the lips over the inhaler, start to breathe in, then activate the inhaler; some are now
breath activated.
•
Inhale slowly and deeply, hold the breath for ten seconds and then breathe out through the
nose;
• Wait for 30 seconds before repeating the procedure.
If the patient does not respond to this treatment seek RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE as additional
treatment will be required. In any event the patient should see a doctor at the next port.
Unstable asthmatics should not be at sea.
Bronchitis
Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchi, which are the branches of the windpipe inside the
lungs. There are two forms, acute (i.e. of recent origin) and chronic (i.e. of long standing).
Acute bronchitis
This may occasionally occur as a complication of some infectious fever (e.g. measles), or other
acute disease. More usually, however, it is an illness in itself, being commonly known as a 'cold
on the chest'. It usually commences as a severe cold or sore throat for a day or two, and then the
patient develops a hard dry cough, with a feeling of soreness and tightness in the chest which is
made worse by coughing. Headache and a general feeling of ill-health are usually present. In
mild cases there is little fever, but in severe cases the temperature is raised to about 37.8°C
- 38.9°(, the pulse rate to about 100 and the respiration rate is usually not more than 24.
Chapter 7 OTHERDISEASES
AND MEDICALPROBLEMS
In a day or two the cough becomes looser, phlegm is coughed up, at first sticky, white and
difficult to bring up, later greenish yellow, thicker and more copious, and the temperature falls
to normal. The patient is usually well in about a week to ten days, but this period may often be
shortened if antibiotic treatment is given.
NOTE:
• the rise in temperature
is only moderate;
• the increase in the pulse and respiration rates is not very large; and
• there is no sharp pain in the chest.
These symptoms distinguish bronchitis from pneumonia which gives rise to much greater
increases in temperature and pulse with obviously rapid breathing and blue tinge of the lips
and sometimes the face. The absence of pain distinguishes bronchitis from pleurisy, for in
pleurisy there is severe sharp pain in the chest, which is increased on breathing deeply or on
coughing.
General treatment
The patient should be put to bed .and propped up with pillows because the cough will be
frequent and painful during the first few days. A container should be provided for the sputum
which should be inspected. Frequent hot drinks and steam inhalations several times a day will
be comforting. Smoking should be discouraged.
Specific treatment
Give 2 tablets of paracetamol every 4 hours. That is sufficient treatment for milder cases with
a temperature of up to 37.8°C which can be expected to return to normal within 2 to 3 days. If
the temperature is higher than 37.8°C give antibiotics, e.g. Ciprofloxacin, Trimethoprim or
erythromycin.
Should there be no satisfactory response to treatment after three days, seek RADIO MEDICAL
ADVICE.
Subsequent management
The patient should remain in bed until the temperature has been normal for 48 hours.
Examination by a doctor should be arranged at the next port.
Chronic bronchitis
This is usually found in men past middle age who are aware of the diagnosis. Exposure to dust,
fumes and tobacco smoking predisposes to the development of chronic bronchitis. Sufferers
usually have a cough of long standing. Ifthe cough is troublesome give codeine.
Superimposed on his chronic condition, a patient may also have an attack of acute bronchitis,
for which the treatment above should be given. If this occurs the temperature is usually raised
and there is a sudden change from a clear, sticky or watery sputum, to a thick yellow sputum.
Every patient with chronic bronchitis should seek medical advice on reaching his home port.
Chest pain
When you have examined the patient and recorded temperature, pulse and respiration rates,
use the chart to help you diagnose the condition.
More information about each condition and the treatments are given separately under the
various illnesses.
Pleurisy
Pleurisy is an inflammation affecting part of the membrane (the pleura) which covers the lungs
and the inner surface of the chest wall. The condition is usually a complication of serious lung
diseases such as pneumonia and tuberculosis. In a typical case arising during the course of
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THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
pneumonia, the breathing movements rub the inflamed pleural surfaces together, causing
severe chest pain which is usually felt in the armpit or breast area. It is described as a stabbing or
tearing pain which is made worse by breathing or coughing and relieved by preventing
movement of the affected side. Occasionally the rubbing can be felt by the hand placed over
the site of pain.
If a pleurisy occurs without the other signs of pneumonia get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
All casesof pleurisy, even if recovered, should be seen by a doctor at the first opportunity.
Shingles, severe bruising or the fracture of a rib or muscular rheumatism in the chest wall
may cause similar pain butthe other features of pleurisy will not be present and the patient will
not be generally ill.
Pleural effusion - fluid round the lung
In a few cases of pleurisy the inflammation causes fluid to accumulate between the pleural
membranes at the base of a lung. This complication should be suspected if the patient remains
ill but the chest pain becomes less and chest movement on the affected side is diminished in
comparison with the unaffected side.
General treatment
If pneumonia is present follow the instructions below. Otherwise, confine the patient to bed. If
there is difficulty in breathing, put the patient in the half sitting-up position or in the leaning
forward position, with elbows on a table, used for people who have difficulty in breathing, give
oxygen. Get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE
Pleurodynia and Chostochondritis
This is a form of rheumatism affecting the muscles between the ribs or the joints between the
ribs and breast bone, respectively. In this condition, there is no history of injury and no signs of
illness; pain along the affected segment of the chest is the only feature. The pain is continuous
in character and may be increased by deep breathing, by other muscular movement and by local
pressure.
It should not be confused with pleurisy or herpes zoster (shingles). Treatment should consist
of two tablets of paracetamol every four hours. Local heat may be helpful. Read the section of
MSN 1726 on analgesics ifthe above treatment is ineffective.
Pneumonia -lobar pneumonia
Lobar pneumonia is an inflammation/ infection of one or more lobes of a lung. The onset may
be rapid over a period of a few hours in a previously fit person or it may occur as a complication
during the course of a severe head cold or an attack of bronchitis.
The patient is seriously ill from the onset with fever, shivering attacks, cough and a stabbing
pain in the chest made worse by breathing movements or the effort of coughing. The breathing
soon becomes rapid and shallow and there is often a grunt on breathing out. The rapidity of the
shallow breathing leads to deficient oxygenation of the blood with consequent blueness of the
lips. The cough is at first dry, persistent and unproductive but within a day or two thick, sticky
sputum is coughed up which is often tin~ed
by blood to give a 'rusty' appearance. The
temperature is usually as high as 39.40 - 40.6 C, the pulse rate 110 -130 and the respiration rate
is always increased to at least 30 and sometimes even higher.
General treatment
Put the patient to bed at once and follow the instructions for bed patients. The patient is usually
most comfortable and breathes most easily if propped up on pillows at 45 degrees. Provide a
beaker for sputum, and measure and examine the appearance of the sputum. Oxygen may be
required.
Encourage the patient to drink because he will be losing a lot of fluid both from breathing
quickly and from sweating. Encourage him to eat whatever he fancies.
Chapter 7 OTHERDISEASESAND MEDICALPROBLEMS
Specific treatment
Give antibiotics e.g. Ciprofloxacin 500 mg every 12 hours for 5 days. Paracetamol can be given
to relieve pain. Get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
Subsequent management
The patient should be encouraged to breathe deeply as soon as he is able to do so and be told
not to smoke. Patients who have had pneumonia should be kept in bed until they are feeling
better and their temperature, pulse and respiration are normal. Increasing activity and deep
breathing exercises are beneficial to get the lungs functioning normally after the illness.
Patients who have had pneumonia should not be allowed back on duty until they have been to
see a doctor.
Pneumothorax (Collapsed lung)
A pneumothorax results when air gets between the pleura (two membranes covering the
outside of the lungs and the inside of the chest). Air gets into the pleural cavity usually as a
result of a penetrating chest wound or a localised weakness in the lung (often in skinny
asthmatics or chronic bronchitis / emphysema. When pneumothorax arises without association
with an injury, it is called spontaneous pneumothorax. Sometimes, but not always, as the air
escapes into the cavity a short sharp pain may be felt, followed by some discomfort in the chest.
The effect of the air is to deflate the lung and thus cause breathlessness. The extent of the
deflation, and the consequent breathlessness, will depend upon the amount of air in the cavity.
The patient's temperature should be normal but his pulse and respiration will reflect the extent
to which he is breathless.
When any associated wound or lung weakness starts to heal, the air in the cavity will
gradually be absorbed and the lung will eventually re-inflate.
General management
Following the emergency treatment for pneumothorax associated with an injury and with
cases of spontaneous pneumothorax, put the patient to bed in the sitting-up position used for
breathlessness, give oxygen. He should see a doctor at the next port. If the patient suffers from
more than slight breathlessness when he is resting in bed get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
ABDOMINAL
SYSTEM - GASTRO-INTESTINAL
TRACT
Abdominal pain
Minor abdominal conditions
This group includes indigestion, 'wind', mild abdominal colic (Le. spasmodic abdominal pain
without diarrhoea and fever), and the effects of over-indulgence in food or alcohol. The patient
can often tell quite a lot about the possible causes of his minor abdominal condition or upsets,
so always encourage him to tell you all he can. Ask about intolerance to certain foods, such as
fried foods, onions, sauces, and other spicy foods and any tendency to looseness, diarrhoea or
constipation or any regularly felt type of indigestion and any known reasons for it. Mild
abdominal pain will usually cure itself if the cause(s) can be understood and removed.
Guard against total acceptance of the patient's explanation of the causesof his pain until you
have satisfied yourself after examination of his abdomen that he is not suffering from a serious
condition. Note that a peptic ulcer may sometimes start with symptoms of slight pain.
General management
The patient should be put on a simple diet for 1 to 2 days and given magnesium trisilicate
compound 500 mg three times a day. Repeat at night if in pain. Paracetamol may be safely
given, not exceeding 8 x 500 mg in 24 hours.lfthe condition does not resolve within two days of
starting this regime. get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE. Anyone who has persistent or unexplained
mild abdominal symptoms should be seen by a doctor at the next port.
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THE SHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Abdominal emergencies
Introduction
Abdominal emergencies such as appendicitis and a perforated gastric or duodenal ulcer al
high on the list of conditions, which, ashore, would be sent to hospital for surgical treatmen
While there is no doubt that early surgical treatment is usually best, this does not mean th,
other forms of treatment are unsuitable or ineffective. In most abdominal emergencies 0
board a ship at sea, surgical treatment is usually neither advisable nor possible. Note that in th
very early stages of abdominal conditions such as appendicitis or perforated ulcers, diarrhoei
vomiting, headaches or fevers are seldom present other than in a mild form. If these symptorr
are present, the illness is much more likely to be a diarrhoea and vomiting type of illness.
Examination of the abdomen
The abdomen should be thoroughly examined. The first thing to do is to lay the patient dowl
comfortably in a warm, well-lit place. He should be uncovered from his nipples to the thigh anI
the groin should be inspected (see Hernia). Look at the abdomen and watch if it moves with th,
patient's breathing. Get the patient to take a deep breath and to cough; ask him if either actior
causes him pain and if so, where he felt it and what it was like. Probably, if the pain is sharp hE
will point with his finger to the spot, but if it is dull he will indicate the area with the flat of hi
hand. A definite 'spot' or area of pain is of greater concern than a generalised one.
Look for any movement of the abdominal contents and note if these movements arE
accompanied by pain and/or by loud gurgling noises. Note if the patient lies very still anc
appears to be afraid to move or cough on account of pain or if he writhes about and cries ou1
when the pain is at its height. Spasmodic pain accompanied by loud gurgling noises usuall~
indicates abdominal colic or bowel obstruction. When the patient lies still with the abdomer
rigid, think in terms of perforated appendixor perforation of a peptic ulcer.
Bowel sounds
When you have completed your inspection, listen to the bowel sounds for at least two minutes
by placing your ear on the abdomen just to the right of the navel.
•
Normal bowel sounds occur as the process of normal digestion proceeds. Gurgling sounds
will be heard at intervals, often accompanied by watery noises. There will be short intervals
of silence and then more sounds will be heard - at least one gurgle should be heard every
minute.
•
Frequent loud sounds with little or no interval occur when bowels are 'working overtime',
as in food poisoning and diarrhoea, to try to get rid of the 'poison'; and in total or partial
intestinal obstruction, to try to move the bowel contents. The sounds will be loud and
frequent and there may be no quiet intervals. A general impression of churning and activity
may be gained. At the height of the noise and churning, the patient will usually experience
colicky pain which if severe may cause him to move and groan.
•
No bowel sounds means that the bowel is paralysed. The condition is found with peritonitis
following a perforated ulcer or a perforated appendix or serious abdominal injuries. The
outlook is serious. RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE is required. The patient should go to a hospital
ashore as soon as possible.
When you have learned all that you can by looking and listening - and this takes time - you
should then feel the abdomen with a warm hand. Before you start, ask the patient not to speak,
but to relax, to rest quietly and to breathe gently through his open mouth in order that his
abdominal muscles are as relaxed as possible. Then begin your examination by laying your hand
flat on the abdomen away from the areas where the patient feels pain or complains of
discomfort. If you examine the pain-free areas first you will get a better idea of what the
patient's abdomen feels like in a part which is normal. Then, with your palm flat and your
fingers straightened and kept together, press lightly downwards by bending at the knuckle
joints. Never prod with finger-tips. Feel systematically all over the abdomen, leaving until last
those areas which may be 'bad' ones. Watch the patient's face as you feel. His expression is likely
Chapter 7 OTHERDISEASES
AND MEDICAL PROBLEMS
to tell you at once if you are touching a tender area. In addition you may feel the abdominal
muscles tensing as he tries to protect the tender part. When you have finished your
examination ask him about the pain and tenderness which he may have felt. Then make a
written note of all that you have discovered.
Examination of urine
The urine of any patient suffering from abdominal pain or discomfort should always be
examined and tested.
When you have completed the examination of the abdomen and recorded temperature and
pulse rate, use the table and diagrams to diagnose the condition or to confirm your diagnosis.
More information about each condition and the treatments are given separately under the
various illnesses.
Anal fissure
An anal fissure is an ulcer which extends into the back passage from the skin at the anal margin.
The fissure is usually narrow, elongated and purple-coloured. When passing faeces intense pain
is experienced, which can continue for half an hour or more. A little slime and blood may be
noticed.
Place the patient in the position advised under haemorrhoids (piles). Put on polythene gloves
before examining the anus. With one finger gently open out a small segment of the anal edge.
Continue until the whole circumference has been inspected. This may give rise to intense pain
and make a complete examination impossible.
Thrombosed external piles or an abscess in this region are the only other likely reasons for
such pain.
Treatment
Relieve pain with paracetamol. An anti-haemorrhoidal
preparation, (e.g: Anusol) should be
used if available. Laxatives and plenty of liquids should also be taken to soften the stool.
Ifthe pain is severe, lignocaine gel may be smeared around the fissure prior to passing faeces.
The area should be washed with soap and water, then carefully dried after each bowel action.
This treatment should be continued until the patient is seen by a doctor at the next port.
Anal itching (anal pruritus)
Localised itching around the anus is commonly caused by excessive sweating, faecal soiling or a
discharge from haemorrhoids.
The skin has a white, sodden appearance bordered by a red inflamed zone. The skin surface
is typically abraded by frequent scratching which prolongs and worsens the condition. Dry
toilet tissue can also exacerbate the irritation, the use of wet wipes is preferable.
Threadworm infestation should be excluded as a cause.
Treatment
Any haemorrhoids should be treated.
After the bowels have moved, the area around the anus should be washed gently with soap
and warm water, then patted dry with a towel before applying zinc ointment. Loose fitting
cotton boxer trunks should be worn. Scratching must be strongly discouraged. If the impulse to
scratch becomes irresistible the knuckles or back of hand, never the fingers, should be used.
Consult a doctor at the next port.
Appendicitis
Appendicitis is the commonest abdominal emergency and mostly occurs in people under
30 years old but it can appear in people of all ages. When considering appendicitis as a
diagnosis, always enquire whether the patient believes that he has already had his appendix
removed. It can be difficult to diagnose in children and the elderly, where a high index of
suspicion is needed.
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THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
The illness usually begins with a combination of
colicky abdominal pain, nausea and perhaps mild
vomiting. The pain is usually felt first in the mid line
just above the navel or around the navel. later, as the
illness progresses, the pain moves from the centre of
the abdomen to the right lower quarter of the
abdomen. The character of the pain changes from
being colicky, diffuse and not weillocalised when it is
around the navel to a pain which is sharp, distinctly
felt and localised at the junction of the outer and
middle thirds of a line between the navel and the
front ofthe right hip bone (Figure 7.1).
The person usually loses his appetite and feels ill.
The bowels are sluggish and the breath is rather bad
or even foul. Often the pain is exacerbated by
movement, so the person prefers to lie still.
Examine the patient. If the patient complains of
sharp stabbing pain when you press gently over the
right lower quarter of his abdomen, and especially if
you feel
his abdominal
muscles tightening
involuntarily when you try to press gently, you can be
fairly sure that the appendix is inflamed. The
temperature
and the pulse rate will rise as the
inflammation increases.
Treatment
Once you suspect a patient has appendicitis GET RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE AND GET THE
PATIENTTO HOSPITALAS SOON AS POSSIBLE.DO NOT GIVE A PURGATIVE.
If the patient can reach hospital within 4 to 6 hours, give him no food or liquid and no drugs
as he will probably require a general anaesthetic. Keep him in bed until he is taken off the ship.
Keep a record of the temperature, pulse and respiration rates and send these and your case
note to the hospital with the patient.
If the patient cannot get to hospital within 4 to 6 hours, put him to bed and take his
temperature, pulse and respiration rates hourly. The patient should have no food, but can have
non-alcoholic drinks. You should start a fluid input/output chart and follow the instruction
about fluid balance and treat and manage the patient as below.
• Specific treatment after four hours Give benzyl penicillin 600 mg intramuscularly and
metronidazole 400 mg at once, and then repeat both every 8 hours for 5 days. For patients
allergic to penicillin, give erythromycin 500 mg and metronidazole 400 mg at once and then
repeat both every 8 hours for 5 days. Treat severe pain.
• Subsequent management If the patient is still on board after 48 hours, he should be given
some fluids such as milk, sweet tea and soup until he can be put ashore.
Anyone who was thought to have appendicitis but seems to have improved should be seen
by a doctor at the next port. Improvement is shown by diminution of pain and fall in
temperature.
Diagnoses which may be confused with appendicitis in men and women include
•
Urinary infection. Always test the urine for protein in any case of suspected appendicitis
and look for the presence or absence of urinary infection.
• A perforated duodenal ulcer. This may cause sharp abdominal pain felt on the right, but the
pain is usually all over the abdomen which is held rigid. The onset of the pain is usually
more sudden and there is normally a past history of indigestion after eating.
•
Other causes of colicky abdominal pain. Renal colic, biliary colic and cholecystitis. These can
cause severe colicky pain, but usually show other features which are unlike appendicitis.
Severe constipation, especially in children may mimic appendicitis.
Chapter 7 OTHERDISEASES
AND MEDICAL PROBLEMS
•
Ectopic pregnancy (tubal pregnancy). Always ask the date of the last menstrual period and
whether the periods are regular or irregular. If there may be a possibility of pregnancy on
the sexual history, always consider that ectopic pregnancy may be possible. Approximately
1 pregnancy in 100 is ectopic. Severe one sided abdominal pain usually precedes vaginal
blood loss.
• Salpingitis (Tubal infection). This is infection of the fallopian tubes. Always enquire about
evidence of infection such as history of sex contacts, pain on urinating and vaginal
discharge and bleeding. The fever is usually higher than in the case of appendicitis. They
may have an offensive vaginal discharge.
Biliary colic - gallstone colic
Biliary colic is usually caused by a gall stone stuck in the neck of the gall bladder or in a bile duct.
There is usually a history of vague indigestion and intolerance to fat. An attack starts very
suddenly without warning symptoms and it may cease just as abruptly.
The bouts of colic, often very severe, are felt in the right upper abdomen just below the
lowest rib but occasionally at the same level only more towards the mid line. Sometimes pain is
also felt passing inwards through the body to the angle of the shoulder blade. The patient feels
cold, sweats profusely and is extremely restless. Nausea is always present and vomiting may
occur. The abdomen feels bloated and the bowel is constipated. The pulse is rapid and the
temperature is normal or slightly raised. A moderately raised temperature may indicate that
the gall bladder is also inflamed.
Examine the abdomen, look for jaundice, take the temperature, pulse and respiration rate,
note the colour of the urine and test for protein and examine the faeces. Rigid abdominal
muscles prevent examination during an acute spasm of pain. Between spasms feel for
tenderness at the gall bladder area. When the outflow of bile is blocked the faeces become pale
or putty coloured because bile pigment is deficient. However, the urine, containing excess bile
pigment, becomes much darker in colour. Look for jaundice each day. If protein is present in the
urine, consider renal colic.
General treatment
Put the patient to bed. Record the temperature, pulse and respiration rates every four hours. If
feverish, give only fluids for the first 48 hours. A fat-free diet should be provided thereafter.
Specific treatment
As soon as possible give morphine 15 mg with an anti-emetic. The morphine will relieve the
pain and the anti-emetic reduce vomiting. Reassure the patient that the injection will act in
about 15 minutes. If the pain returns the injection should be repeated after four hours and
RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE should be sought.
If gall bladder inflammation
(cholecystitis) is also present, give antibiotics. GET RADIO
MEDICAL ADVICE.
Subsequent management
Isolate any jaundiced patient and get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE. All casesshould see a doctor at
the next port.
Cholecystitis - inflammation of the gall bladder
Cholecystitis may occur in either acute or chronic form and nearly always the inflammation is
associated with the presence of stones in the gall bladder. The patient is usually middle aged or
upwards, overweight and often in a chronic case has a history of long-standing indigestion with
flatulence made worse by fried or fatty foods. In a typical acute attack there is a sudden onset of
pain in the right, upper quarter of the abdomen in the gall bladder area. The pain is usually
moderately severe, constant rather than colicky, and may spread through the body towards the
right shoulder blade and sometimes to the right shoulder tip. Fever, nausea and vomiting are
present and the patient tends to lie still in bed rather than roll about. This stillness is an
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THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
important diagnostic sign in distinguishing cholecystitis from biliary colic where the patient is
extremely restlessduring the spasmsof colic.
On feeling the abdomen, local tenderness over the gall bladder is often found with an
associated hardness of contracted, right, upper abdominal muscles.
If the hand is slid gently under the rib margin at the gall bladder area while the abdominal
muscles are drawn in during a deep breath, it is usually possible to find a localised and very
tender place, the person will groan as they breath in, with an examining hand on the right
upper quadrant.
In diagnosis, cholecystitis must not be confused with biliary colic, right-sided pneumonia,
hepatitis, perforation of a peptic ulcer or right-sided pyelitis (see diagnostic charts for
abdominal and chest pain).
General treatment
The patient should be confined to bed, solid food should be withheld until the nausea subsides
but adequate fluids (except milk) should be given. Thereafter, a bland diet without fried or
fatty foods should be offered. A hot water bottle applied to the gall bladder area will alleviate
pain. The temperature, pulse and respiration should be recorded. The white of the eye should
be inspected for jaundice each day and the urine and faeces examined for changes associated
with jaundice.
Further management
All cases,even if recovered, should be seen by a doctor when convenient.
Specific treatment
Give Ciprofloxacin 500 mg twice daily for five days. In an uncomplicated case the condition
should be improved after two days. If the pain and fever increase or gall stone colic starts or
jaundice appears, get RADIO MEDICALADVICE.
Diarrhoea
Diarrhoea is a symptom, not a disease. Seafarers are particularly prone to it because of the
climatic changes to which they are subject.
In acute casesof diarrhoea you should consider the possibility of enteric fever, cholera or
malaria.
All casesof diarrhoea should be treated as an infectious condition. If the condition does not
settle within 48 hours, get RADIO MEDICALADVICE.
Acute gastro-enteritis
The commonest cause is 'food-poisoning' and the diarrhoea will often be associated with
vomiting, abdominal colic (griping) and a raised temperature. This type of diarrhoea can be
mild to very severe but will nearly always settle with simple treatment.
A lot of outbreaks of gastro-enteritis can be prevented by good hygiene in galleys and
sensible eating and drinking ashore.
Treatment
•
Rest in bed for at least 24 hours without solid foods in severe cases,plenty of clear fluids,
small amounts, frequently. Mild casesneed only a restricted, light diet.
• Fluids should be given in as large a quantity asthe patient will tolerate. Oral rehydration
salts are recommended.
• Antacids such as Magnesium trisilicate will often help to relieve symptoms.
When the diarrhoea appears to have settled, then a slow return to normal diet can be made.
In a very small number of casesthere is an associated high temperature and general malaise.
In these cases the antibiotic regime, and the sodium chloride and dextrose recommended
below for dysentery may be undertaken.
Chapter 7 OTHERDISEASESAND MEDICALPROBLEMS
Bacillary dysentery
This condition is difficult to differentiate
from acute gastro-enteritis without laboratory
investigations. It is an infection of the bowel caused by eating or drinking food contaminated
by infected excreta. Flies are often the means of conveying the infection.
The symptoms are usually more severe than in the case ofgastro-enteritis
and tend to lastfor
several days. It is more often associated with moderate to severe malaise and high temperature
and the passage of slimy blood-stained faeces than is gastro-enteritis.
Treatment
•
Moderate to severe casesshould be treated in the same manner as for gastro-enteritis.
•
In severe casesof diarrhoea and dysentery give sodium chloride and dextrose compound
oral powder (oral rehydration salts) dissolved in water, to which fruit juices can be added.
Give about 41itres a day in addition to other fluids.
•
Severe caseswith high temperatures should also be given Ciprofloxacin 500 mg twice daily,
for five days. This should not be continued beyond this period as the drug itself may cause
diarrhoea.
Amoebic dysentery
A chronic condition which is seen in tropical countries. The general symptoms are much the
same but may recur over a period. The diarrhoea is not as frequent as with bacillary dysentery
and may often be mixed with blood and mucous.
Treatment
Give metronidazole
800 mg every 8 hours for 5 days.
Haemorrhoids - piles
Haemorrhoids are varicose veins found around the anus. They may be external or internal.
External haemorrhoids are found below the anal sphincter (the muscle that closes off the anus).
They are covered by skin and are brown or dusky purple colour. Internal haemorrhoids may
protrude through the anal sphincter. These are covered by a mucous membrane, and are bright
red or cherry coloured.
Haemorrhoids are usually noticed because of bleeding, pain or both after the bowels have
moved. Hard faeces can scrape the haemorrhoids and will increase discomfort and bleeding.
Faecal soiling of underclothes may occur ifthe anal sphincter is lax. Occasionally, the blood in an
external haemorrhoid may clot and give rise to a bluish painful swelling about the size of a pea,
or grape, at the edge of the anus - a thrombosed external haemorrhoid.
To inspect the anus, the patient should be instructed to lie on his left side with both knees
drawn up to his chin. When in this position, separate the buttocks. The anus should be carefully
inspected for swellings caused by external haemorrhoids or by internal haemorrhoids which
have come down through the anus.
Treatment
The patient should be advised to eat wholemeal bread, breakfast cereals containing bran,
vegetables and fruit in order to keep the faeces as soft as possible. Fluid intake should be
increased. After a bowel action the patient should wash the anus with soap and water, using
cotton wool. He should then thoroughly wash his hands using a soft nail brush to ensure
cleanliness ofthe nails.
In the case of extremely painful external haemorrhoids, bed rest may be advisable. Taking a
hot bath after passing a motion can be comforting. Lignocaine gel may give some relief. The
condition usually subsides in about seven to ten days.
The patient should be told if he has internal haemorrhoids, so that he can push them back
after washing his back passage. If they are painful and bleeding, standard piles medications,
such as Anusol or Germaliods, should be used according to the instructions.
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THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
If the haemorrhoids cannot be pushed back (prolapsed internal haemorrhoids) the patient
should be put to bed face downwards with an ice pack over the prolapsed haemorrhoids. After
some time, 30 minutes to one hour or upwards, the prolapsed haemorrhoids should have
shrunk and can usually be pushed back.
Bleeding from haemorrhoids is usually small in amount. Local discomfort around the anus may be
relieved by calamine lotion or zinc ointment. Any patient with haemorrhoids should always be seen
by a doctor atthe next port for treatment and to exclude any more serious disease of the bowel.
Hernia - rupture
The abdominal cavity is a large enclosed space lined by a
sheet of tissue. The abdominal wall muscles resist the varying
changes of pressure within the cavity. Increased pressure may
force a protrusion of a portion of the lining tissue through a
weak spot in the muscles of the abdominal wall. This forms a
pouch and usually, sooner or later, some part of the
abdominal contents will be pushed into the pouch. It may
appear at the navel or through an operation scar but the
commonest position is in the groin. The weakness may have
been present from birth but it may be brought on by a
chronic cough or strain. At first, a rupture is noticed under
the skin as a soft rounded swelling which is often no larger
than a walnut but it may become very much bigger after
some months. The swelling tends to disappear when the
patient is lying down but it reappears when he stands up or
coughs. Normally there is no severe pain but, usually, a sense
of discomfort and dragging is present.
When a hernia is suspected, the patient must always be
Figure 7.2 Inguinal hernia
examined while standing. In the groin, the swelling of a
rupture must not be confused with swollen lymph glands,
the latter tend to feel irregular and rubbery. Usually there are several swollen tender glands
and they never disappear when the patient lies down.
It is sometimes possible to see and to feel an impulse transmitted to the hernia swelling ifthe
patient is asked to cough forcibly several times.
Treatment
A person who knows he is ruptured has often learned to push the swelling back for himself. He
should be removed from heavy work. An operation to cure the weakness is necessary. If the
hernia is painful, the patient should be put to bed. Often the swelling can be replaced into the
abdomen by gentle pressure when the patient is lying on his back with his knees drawn up.
Keep him in bed until he can be seen by a doctor at the next port. Relaxation in a warm bath or
even oral Diazepam 5 mg may be necessary.
Strangulation or Rupture
Most hernias, whatever their size, manage to pass backwards or forwards through the
abdominal wall weakness without becoming trapped in the opening. However, the contents of
the hernia pouch may occasionally become trapped and compressed by the opening and it may
be impossible to push them back into the abdomen. The circulation of blood to the contents
may be cut off and if a portion of intestine has been trapped, intestinal obstruction may occur.
This is known as a strangulated hernia and unless attempts to return the abdominal contents
through the hernia weakness are successful, surgical operation will become urgently necessary.
Get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
An injection of morphine 10- 15 mg intramuscularly should be given at once. The patient
should then lie in bed with his legs raised at an angle of 45° and his buttocks on a pillow. In
about 20 minutes, when the morphine has completely relieved the pain, try again by gentle
manipulation to coax the hernia back into the abdomen. If you are not successful within 5
minutes, stop.
Chapter 7 OTHERDISEASESAND MEDICAL PROBLEMS
Intestinal colic
Intestinal colic causes a griping pain which comes and goes over the whole abdomen. The pain
is due to strong contractions of the muscle around the bowel.
Intestinal colic is not a diagnosis; it is a symptom of many abdominal conditions but
commonly it is associated with food poisoning, the early stages of appendicitis and with any
illness which causes diarrhoea. However, the most serious association of severe intestinal colic is
with intestinal obstruction.
Intestinal obstruction
Get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
Intestinal obstruction may come on either slowly or suddenly; a common cause is a
strangulated hernia. The bowel will always try to push intestinal contents past any obstruction,
and in doing so the bowel muscle will contract strongly causing colicky pain. These strong
contractions may be seen and also heard as loud gurgling noises.
In the early stages, the patient may often complain of an attack of wind and constipation.
Later on he cannot even passwind (absolute constipation). The patient's abdomen may distend
and harden due to gas production which he cannot get rid of by passing wind and the bowel
sounds become louder. The patient may vomit, at first the stomach contents and later faecal
matter. The bowel sounds may eventually become absent, but should be listened for, for a full
5 minutes.
General treatment
As one of the causes of obstruction is a strangulated hernia, look carefully for this and do
everything possible to alleviate this condition. Whatever the cause, it is essential that the
patient is removed as quickly as possible to a place where surgical treatment can be carried out
to relieve the obstruction. Delay can be fatal. Get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
In the meantime, put the patient to bed. Give him nothing by mouth except water to wash
out his mouth if he vomits. Rectal fluids will be required to maintain fluid balance. This should
be started immediately.
Specific treatment
The patient may be given morphine 10 -15 mg intramuscularly.
Jaundice
Jaundice is a yellow discoloration ofthe skin and ofthe whites ofthe eyes due to an abnormally
high accumulation of bile pigment in the blood.
If the patient is fair-skinned jaundice will give it a yellow tinge which will not be obvious in
those of tanned or darker colour. In all people the yellow colour can be seen in the white of the
eye. It is best to look for jaundice in the corners of the eye in natural daylight, as some forms of
artificial lighting can impart a yellow tinge.
A patient with jaundice will often complain of an itching skin, and state that he has had
nausea and vomiting for 2 to 4 days before the colouring was noticed. His urine will be the
colour of strong tea and his faeces will be putty-coloured.
The colour and quantity of both
should be recorded. On a ship the most likely causes of jaundice are ineffective hepatitis
and gallstones or alcoholic liver cirrhosis. If the patient has jaundice get RADIO MEDICAL
ADVICE.
General treatment
The patient should be put to bed and given a fat-free diet. Unless the Radio Medical Doctor
advises otherwise it should be assumed that the patient has infective hepatitis and this means
that he should be in strict isolation. There is no specific treatment for jaundice which can be
given on board ship. Any patient with jaundice should see a doctor at the next port.
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THE SHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Peritonitis
Get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE
This is inflammation of the thin layer of tissue (the peritoneum) which covers the intestines
and lines the inside ofthe abdomen. It may occur as a complication of appendicitis after about
24 - 48 hours or certain other serious diseases of the contents of the abdomen.
The onset of peritonitis may be assumed when there is a general worsening of the condition
of a patient already seriously ill with some abdominal disease. It commences with severe pain all
over the abdomen - pain which is made worse by the slightest movement. The abdomen
becomes hard and extremely tender, and the patient draws up his knees to relax the abdominal
muscle. Vomiting occurs and becomes progressively more frequent, large quantities of brown
fluid being brought up without any effort. The temperature is raised (up t039.4°C) and the
pulse is feeble and rapid (110 - 120), gradually increasing in rate. The pallid anxious face, the
sunken eyes and extreme general weakness all confirm the gravely ill state of the patient. If
hiccoughs begin, this must be regarded as a very serious sign.
Treatment
Peritonitis is a very serious complication of abdominal disease so get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE
and deliver the patient into hospital as soon as possible. Until this can be done manage the
illness as follows:
•
Treat the infection. Give benzyl penicillin 600 mg intramuscularly and metronidazole 400
mg at once and repeat both every 8 hours for 5 days. For patients allergic to penicillin give
erythromycin 500 mg and metronidazole 400 mg at once, and repeat both every 8 hours for
5 days. (If vomiting is a problem, see elsewhere).
•
Correct the dehydration. Give\Nater per rectum and keep a fluid input /output chart.
If thirst continues, cautiously allow sips of water.
•
Keep regular records. Make notes of the patient's temperature,
and any change, for better or worse, in his condition.
pulse and respiration every
'f, hour,
Ulcers
Peptic ulceration - duodenal and stomach ulcers
This is a special type of ulcer which develops in the wall ofthe stomach or duodenum. A shallow
ulcer may heal within a short time but more often it becomes deep seated and causes recurring
bouts of indigestion with pain.
At first, discomfort is noticed about three hours after meals at a point half way between the
navel and the breastbone in the mid-line or slightly towards the right side. Within days or weeks
the discomfort develops into a gnawing pain associated with a feeling of hunger occurring 1 - 3
hours after meals. Sleep is often disturbed by similar pain in the early part ofthe night. The pain
is relieved temporarily by taking food or indigestion medicine. Vomiting is uncommon but acid
stomach fluid is sometimes regurgitated into the mouth -the so-called heartburn. The appetite
is only slightly diminished and weight loss is not marked. Bouts of indigestion lasting weeks or
months alternate with symptom-free periods of varied length. Gastric ulcer pain tends to come
on sooner after a meal and vomiting is more common than with duodenal ulceration.
On examination of the abdomen, tenderness localised to the area mentioned above will be
found by gentle hand pressure.
Treatment
The patient should rest in bed but may be allowed up for washing and meals. Frequent small
meals of bland food should be provided with milk drinks in between. Tobacco and alcohol
should not be allowed. Antacids such as Magnesium trisilicate should be given half way
between meals also Cimetidine 400 mg 12 hourly. Pain relief tablets are not necessary and
aspirin, which often irritates the gut, should never be given. The patient should be sent for full
investigation to a doctor at the next port.
Chapter 7 OTHERDISEASES
AND MEDICAL PROBLEMS
Complications
The ulcer may extend through the thickness of the gut wall causing a hole (perforation)
may erode the wall of a blood vessel causing serious internal bleeding.
or it
Bleeding peptic ulcers
GET IMMEDIATE RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
Most peptic ulcers, gastric or duodenal, have a tendency to bleed, especially if they are long
standing. The bleeding may vary from a slight oozing to a profuse blood loss which may
endanger life. The blood always appears in the faeces. Small amounts may not be detected but
larger amounts of digested blood turns the faeces, which may be solid or fluid, black and tarry.
In some cases fresh, bright red blood may be vomited; but, if it is partially digested, the vomit
looks like coffee grounds.
The patient usually has had a history of indigestion and sometimes the symptoms may have
increased shortly before haemorrhage takes place.
General treatment
The patient must be put to bed at once and should be kept at rest to assist clot formation, see
internal bleeding. Get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE and get the patient to hospital as soon as
possible.
A pulse chart should be started to watch for a rising pulse rate which would be an indication
for urgent hospital treatment. The patient should be given nothing by mouth during the first
24 hours except sips of iced or cold water. After the first 24 hours small amounts of milk or milky
fluids can be given with 15 to 30 ml of milk each hour for the first 12 hours. This amount can
then be doubled if the patient's condition is no worse.
Specific treatment
Give morphine 15 mg intramuscularly at once, then give 10 to 15 mg every 4 to 6 hours,
depending on the response to treatment which aims at keeping the patient quiet, at rest and
free from worry.
If bleeding continues at a worrying rate, which will be indicated by a rising pulse rate and a
deterioration in the patient's condition, all that can be done is to increase, if possible, the
efforts to get the patient to hospital and attempt to meet fluid requirements by giving rectal
fluids. A fluid input/output chart should be started.
Perforated ulcer
GET URGENT RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
When perforation occurs there is a sudden onset of agonising abdominal pain felt at once in
the upper central part before spreading rapidly all over and being accompanied by some
degree of general collapse and sometimes vomiting. The patient is very pale and apprehensive
and breaks out in a profuse cold sweat. The temperature usually falls but the pulse rate is at first
normal or slow, although weak. The patient lies completely still either on his back or side, with
his knees drawn up, and he is afraid to make any movement which might increase his agonyeven talking or breathing movement are feared and questioning is often resented.
Large perforations produce such dramatic symptoms that the condition is unlikely to be
mistaken for other causes of abdominal pain where the patient is likely to move about in bed
and cry out or complain when pain increases. The pain is most severe just after perforation has
occurred when the digestive juices have escaped from the gut into the abdominal cavity.
However, after several hours the pain may become less severe and the state of collapse be less
marked butthis apparent recovery is often short-lived.
On feeling the abdomen with a flat hand the abdominal muscles will be found to be
completely rigid - like feeling a board. Even light hand pressure will increase the pain and be
resented by the patient, especially when the upper abdomen is felt. It will be seen that the
abdomen does not take part in breathing movements. The patient cannot relax the abdominal
muscles which have been involuntarily contracted by pain.
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THE SHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
As the size of a perforation can vary from a pinhole to one of much larger diameter, a small
perforation may be confused with appendicitis because the pain begins centrally. But:
• with a perforated ulcer, the pain is usually in the upper middle abdomen at first and not
around the navel as in appendicitis;
• with a perforated ulcer, the central upper pain remains as the main source when the pain
starts to be experienced elsewhere, whereas in appendicitis the pain moves - the central
colicky pain becoming a sharp pain in the right lower quarter of the abdomen; and
•
a patient with a perforation usually has a history of previous indigestion but this does not
apply to patients with appendicitis.
General treatment
It is essential that the patient should be transferred to hospital as quickly as possible. Get RADIO
MEDICAL ADVICE. The patient should be confined to bed on strict bed rest. A temperature, pulse,
respiration chart should be started with hourly readings for the first 24 hours and then four hourly.
The perforation may close naturally if nothing is given by mouth for the first 24 hours. Fluid
requirement during this period can be met by giving fluid per rectum ifthe patient is thirsty and
pain relief has been adequate. A fluid input/output chart should be started.
Specific treatment
It is essential to achieve adequate pain reliefso give morphine 15 mg intramuscularly with an antiemetic at once. In a case of severe pain not satisfactorily controlled by that injection, a further
injection may be given within the first hour. Thereafter, the injection should not be repeated more
frequently than every four hours. Aspirin or drugs containing aspirin must never be given.
All patients, unless sensitive to penicillin, should be given benzyl penicillin 600 mg
intramuscularly at once, followed by 300 mg every six hours until the patient isseen by a doctor. If
the patient is sensitive to penicillin, seek advice urgently regarding use of alternative antibiotics.
Subsequent management
After the first 24 hours, if progress is satisfactory, a small amount of milk or half milk/half water
can be given. Start with 15 to 30 ml of such fluid each hourforthefirst
12 hours. The amount can
then be doubled provided the pain does not become worse. If milk is well tolerated, increasing
amounts can be given frequently. Apart from milk and water, the patient should consume
nothing until he is in hospital ashore.
Worms
Infestations can be caused by threadworms,
in the faeces is dealt with elsewhere.
roundworms or tapeworms. Identification
of worms
Threadworms - pinworms
This is the most common infestation. The gut is infested with many small worms measuring up
to 1.2 cm ('/, in) in length which resemble short lengths of white cotton. There is marked
irritation around the anus caused by the migration ofthe female worms which passthrough the
anus to lay eggs on the surrounding skin. This irritation occurs particularly at night when warm
in bed and the impulse to scratch becomes almost irresistible. Worm eggs then contaminate the
anal skin and are deposited on clothing and bedclothes. Failure to wash the hands each time
after contact can then result in personal reinfection or the contamination of foodstuff or
conveying the eggs to another person.
General treatment
Prevention of reinfection is essential. The nails should be kept short and the hands should be
washed scrupulously after defecation or scratching. Underclothes, pyjamas and bedclothes
should be boiled.
Chapter 7 OTHERDISEASESAND MEDICALPROBLEMS
Specific treatment
The patient should be given, with the evening meal, a single dose sachet of mebendazole 100 mg
once and repeat 2 weeks later.
If there should be evidence of reinfection, the treatment may be repeated after a fortnight.
Roundworms
Roundworms are similar in appearance to the earthworm. Infection usually results from eating
contaminated salads or vegetables which have been insufficiently cooked. The worm eggs may
also contaminate drinking water. The first sign of infestation may be the presence of a worm in
the faeces but vague abdominal pain and either diarrhoea or constipation may occur.
Specific treatment
The patient should be treated with Mebendazole
threadworms.
in the same dosage as that advised for
Tapeworms
Infestation is conveyed by eating infected pork or beef which has been cooked insufficiently to
kill the worm eggs. The worm usually grows to a length of many feet made up of white flat
segments. There may be no symptoms but, in some cases, there is an increased appetite with
vague abdominal pains and occasional diarrhoea.
Treatment on board is not advised and should only be carried out under medical supervision.
GENITO-URINARY
SYSTEM
Paraphimosis (Penile swelling)
A condition where a naturally tight foreskin is retracted
overthe head ofthe penis and cannot be pulled forward.
It can occur in some individuals following
sexual
intercourse. The head of the penis becomes constricted
by the tight band offoreskin, and then swollen, congested,
and painful.
Treatment
Put the patien-t to bed. The congestion should be
relieved by application of ice packs until the foreskin can
be manipulated over the head of the penis again. This is done by pressing the head of the penis
backwards with the thumbs and, at the same time, drawing the foreskin over and forward with
the fingers (Figure 7.3). Ifthis fails seek RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
Testicular pain
In all cases of disease or injury to the testicles, the man should be referred to a doctor for
examination at the next port, even if the condition appears to be better.
Twisted or inflamed testicle (Torsion)
• Twisting of the testicle can follow a sudden effort causing the testicle to twist on its cord
and cut off the blood supply. This is an uncommon condition and, when it occurs, frequently
affects a testicle that is suspended in an abnormal (horizontal) line. Seek RADIO MEDICAL
ADVICE .
•
Inflammation of the testicle may be caused by an infection. Always remember this can be a
complication of gonorrhoea, see urethritis or mumps.
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THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Both conditions show many similar features.
The testicle becomes painful, swollen, and very
tender. The scrotum also becomes inflamed
and fluid will collect inside it adding to the
swelling and pain. It may be difficult to tell the
difference between the two conditions but the
following facts will be of help.
With twisting (Figure 7.4) the patient is
usually young and, although
in great
discomfort, does not feel ill. There may be a
history of physical effort. The onset of pain is
very sudden. Check the position and lie of the
other testicle. With inflammation, there may be
Figure 7.4 Twisted testicle.
a history of infection. The patient feels ill, he is
feverish and the pulse rate is increased. He may passurine frequently causing a burning sensation.
A useful test is to support the testicles in a crutch bandage for one hour. Do not give any
pain-killers. If within the hour the pain is partially relieved, you are probably dealing with an
inflammation; if not, or the pain is worse, the condition is a twisting of the testicle.
Treatment
Get RADIO MEDICALADVICEat once.
Put the patient to bed and support the testicles by placing a pillow between the legs and
letting the scrotum rest on this. Relieve pain by giving codeine 30 mg every 6 hours. If an
infection is suspected give Doxycycline 100 mg every 12 hours for 10 days in addition to the
painkillers.
Injury to the testicles
This not uncommon condition is usually the result of falling astride a rope under tension or a
hard surface.
The testicles become very swollen and tender and there is a great deal of pain. Depending on
the severity of the injury bruising will appear on the scrotum and can extend up the shank ofthe
penis, up the abdominal wall and down into the thighs.
General treatment
The patient should be put to bed with the testicles supported on a pillow. Depending on the
severity of the pain he should be given either two paracetamol tablets or one codeine 30 mg
tablet every 6 hours. The urethra may be bruised or more severely injured. Always check that
the patient can pass urine. If difficulty is found
get RADIO MEDICALADVICE.
Other swellings of the scrotum
Two conditions should be borne in mind:
• A large hernia which has passeddown from
the groin into the scrotum;
• A hydrocoele.
Both these swellings can become very large,
but there
is no great tenderness, no
inflammation, no rise in temperature or pulse
rate, and the patient does not feel ill.
A hydrocoele is a collection of fluid in the
scrotum, often caused by a minor injury which
the patient may not remember. In contrast to
those caused by twisting or infection, these
swellings are not inflamed or tender, and the
Chapter 7 OTHERDISEASES
AND MEDICAL PROBLEMS
patient does not feel ill or feverish. However, there is one exception to this general rule
(strangulated hernia).
There are two ways to distinguish a hydrocoele from a hernia in the scrotum:
•
In a darkened room, place a lighted torch behind the swelling. Ifthere is fluid present,
i.e. a hydrocoele, the swelling will become translucent (light up) .
•
Grasp the top ofthe swelling with the thumb and forefinger and judge if it is confined to
the scrotum or if it is continuous up into the groin. If it is entirely in the scrotum suspect a
hydrocoele; if it is continuous with a swelling in the groin, then it is a hernia (Figure 7.5).
Treatment
The treatment for both these conditions is surgical and the man should be seen at the next port
by a doctor. In the meantime some relief may be obtained by supporting the scrotum in a crutch
bandage, particularly if the man has a hydrocoele.
Urinary problems
See also female disorders and sexually transmitted
diseases.
Renal colic
A stone may remain in the kidney without causing any trouble but often it causes a dull pain in
the loin accompanied on occasion by passing blood in the urine. Acute pain (renal colic) does
not arise until a stone enters the tube (the ureter) leading from the kidney to the bladder.
The pain, which is agonising, comes on suddenly. It starts in the loin below the ribs then
shoots down to the groin and testicles. Each bout may last up to ten minutes with a similar
interval between bouts. The patient is unable to keep still and rolls about calling out with each
paroxysm of pain. Vomiting and sweating are common. The pulse is rapid and weak but the
temperature usually remains normal. An attack usually lasts for several hours before ending,
often abruptly, when the stone moves downwards to the bladder.
General treatment
The patient should be put to bed but often wishes to get out and move about.
Always examine a specimen of urine, when it isavailable, for clots of blood. Test also for protein.
Examine every specimen for grit or stones that have been passed.
Specific treatment
As soon as possible give morphine 15 mg intramuscularly with an anti-emetic. The acute pain
once relieved may not recur, but renewed paroxysms of pain are an indication to repeat the
injection at intervals not shorter than four hourly, encourage fluids.
Inflammation of the bladder and kidneys - cystitis and pyelitis
This relatively common inflammation which may affect the bladder alone (cystitis) or the
bladder together with the kidneys (pyelitis) occurs more often in women than men.
Predisposing factors are poor hygiene, co-existing disease of the urinary system or genitalia,
kidney or bladder stones, urethritis, vaginal discharge, or partial obstruction of the outflow of
urine (enlarged prostate gland).
The usual symptoms of cystitis are dull pain in the pit of the abdomen and in the crutch, with
a frequent or constant need to pass small quantities of urine which causes a burning sensation
when passed. The temperature is moderately raised and the patient feels generally unwell.
A specimen of the infected urine may contain matter or small amounts of blood. A cloudy
appearance and an unusual odour may be noticed.
In contrast to this usual pattern of disease, cystitis can occur without temperature change or
general symptoms so that, apart from frequent urination, the patient may not realise that
infection is present.
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THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
When the kidneys are also inflamed, there will in addition be pain in one or both loins with a
high temperature 38.9° - 40°C. The patient will feel very ill with widespread aching, shivering
attacks and even vomiting.
General treatment
All save the mildest cases should be put to bed. The temperature, pulse and respiration should
be recorded and the urine examined daily and tested for protein.
At least 3 litres of bland fluid should be drunk each 24 hours. Hot baths and heat applied to
the lower abdomen will ease the bladder discomfort.
Specific treatment
Give Trimethoprim 200 mg every 12 hours for five days. If the response to treatment
unsatisfactory, get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
is
Acute stoppage or retention of urine
A stoppage is present when a person is unable to urinate even though the bladder is full. Much
pain and suffering are caused as the bladder becomes increasingly distended. It can be felt in
the lower abdomen as a rounded, tender swelling above the pubic bone and, in severe cases,
can extend upward as far as the navel.
There is always some degree of blockage somewhere in the tube (urethra) between the
bladder and the external opening. Common causes include localised injury, a scar within the
tube (stricture), urinary stone stuck in the tube, holding the water too long particularly during
or after heavy drinking and, most common in men past middle age, an enlargement of the
prostate gland. This enlargement may have caused previous difficulty with urination such as a
poor stream, trouble starting and stopping, dribbling and a frequent, urgent need to urinate
during both day and night.
Acute retention of urine is rare in women.
Treatment
The patient should lie in a hot bath where he should try
severe discomfort give morphine 15 mg intramuscularly
constipation should be relieved. Give nothing to drink.
urination has not occurred within half-an-hour the penis
thoroughly in preparation for catheterisation.
to relax and to pass urine. If he has
before he gets into the bath. Any
Keep the bath water really hot. If
and genital area should be washed
Catheterisation - male
In extreme casesof urine retention, catheterisation will be necessary. Passing a catheter must be
done with local anaesthesia and also with great attention to cleanliness so that urinary
infection is not produced. If morphine has not been given, give diazepam 10 mg by mouth
while he is still in the bath (see paragraph above). This will take effect while preparations are
being made.
Collect together all the necessary equipment:
• clean towels;
•
a catheter (Foley, size 16 Charriere gauge);
•
a large receiver for the urine;
• antiseptic solution or soap and water;
•
anaesthetic (lignocaine gel 20/0);
•
20 ml syringe (to inject water into the retaining bag of the catheter);
•
nozzle, drainage bag and holder;
• sticking plaster or tape to retain catheter and drainage bag.
Prepare to pass the catheter:
• tell the patient what you are going to do when he leaves the bath;
•
help him to leave the bath and to lie down;
• wash your hands;
•
place clean (sterile if possible) towels around the patient's thighs and lower abdomen so
that only his penis is showing;
•
retract the foreskin fully and swab the head of the penis with antiseptic solution
• wash your hands thoroughly;
•
holding the penis vertically, insert lignocaine gel2% into the urethra and massage it down
inside the penis to between the legs;
•
use plenty of lignocaine because it acts both as an anaesthetic and as a lubricant.
The commonest cause of failure to catheterise successfully is insufficient anaesthesia
leading to spasm of muscle at the base of the bladder;
•
wait for 5 minutes for the anaesthetic to act;
•
place a receiver between the patient's legs ready to receive the urine;
• wash your hands again;
•
open the catheter package onto a new clean towel spread over the patient's abdomen just
above the penis;
•
hold the catheter about 20 cm from its tip, and have someone else squirt some lignocaine
gel onto a sterile swab without touching the swab and use this to spread lignocaine along
the catheter. Make sure that the catheter does not touch anything else while you spread
the lignocaine;
•
stand on the right side of the patient, hold the penis vertically by the sides using your left
hand, and pass the catheter slowly into the penis;
• when the catheter tip has passed into the urethra and is lying between the legs, about
15 cm of catheter passed, a sensation of resistance will usually be felt;
•
move the penis downwards towards the feet and continue to pass the catheter slowly until
urine flows into the receiver;
•
make sure that the catheter does not slip out and insert the recommended volume of water
into the catheter balloon to retain the catheter;
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•
pull the foreskin completely forwards, connect the catheter to the drainage bag and fix the
catheter and the drainage tube to the patient's thigh. Make sure that the catheter cannot
be tugged by making and fixing to the patient a loop in the drainage tube near the
catheter end;
• test the urine for protein and record the result;
•
keep the catheter in place;
• give Trimethoprim
doctor;
200 mg every 12 hours until the patient is handed over to the care of a
• empty the urine collecting bag as required. Be especially careful about cleanliness so that
infection cannot travel up from the bag to the patient.
BRAIN AND NERVOUS SYSTEM
Mental illness
Many people feel low in mood or irritable when physically ill but this gets better as the illness
improves. What we may term true mental illness occurs on its own, but also often as a result of
distressing news. There is a difference in behaviour which may be slightly unusual, or bizarre
and completely abnormal. It is important to realise that the person who is mentally ill mayor
may not know he is acting in an abnormal way.
To diagnose mental illness is a highly skilled job, but all that can be done at sea isto recognise
that something is wrong and seek expert help as soon as possible. Meanwhile handle the
situation firmly and tactfully. This may require time and effort, as the patient may be irrational,
violent and/or suicidal.
How to cope with a person who appears mentally ill
Try to keep calm and friendly, remember that what the person is experiencing is very real to him.
Try to establish a trusting relationship and allow him to talk and express his feelings. Try not to
contradict or argue asthis might provoke withdrawal or even aggression. Offer comfort and help
if necessary. If possible, ask the patient if he has suffered previous episodes of a similar nature.
Three types of mental illness may be seen at sea; anxiety, depression and obvious madness. It
should also be recognised that excessive alcohol intake or use of illicit drugs can produce bizarre
symptoms, as can withdrawal from these substances.
Depression
Two kinds of depression are usually described. The first has obvious cause such as the death of a
close friend or relative. The second kind occurs without apparent cause.
In both kinds of depression the symptoms are similar, from feeling miserable to being
suicidal. Every intermediate stage can occur. The patient may be emotionally up one day and
down the next. Early wakening (e.g. 0200) and staying awake is the usual sleep disturbance. In
appearance, morose and even sullen, he retires within himself and speaks only when spoken to.
It may be difficult to get a clear story from him because he is sunk in misery and simply wants to
be left alone. When he is alone, he may sit and cry, so enquire sympathetically about this
because it helps to indicate the level of depression.
Very depressed people may commit suicide. It is essential to recognise those at risk so that
correct precautionary measures can be taken. Bya natural progression of questioning about
the patient's general feelings, it should be possible to establish whether suicide has been
contemplated.
Obvious madness
Any person who is obviously mad will require a good deal of looking after. In such cases it is
always wise to assume that the person's behaviour is so unpredictable that he may at any time
become violent or suicidal. often without provocation or warning. Anyone who shows signs of
severe mental illness should at once be sedated with Chlorpromazine and kept under close
observation. He should in the early stages be approached by two people. Failure to observe
these precautions can result in tragedies.
Chapter 7 OTHERDISEASESAND MEDICALPROBLEMS
How to deal with potential
suicide
Anyone who appears to be deeply depressed or who talks of suicide or threatens suicide should
never be left alone. This is not an easy thing to accomplish in practice. The person should be
confined to a cabin and kept there under supervision. The deck is a dangerous place and the
ship's side may be a temptation to suicide. The person must be escorted, even to the toilet and
the door left ajar. All drugs and medicines must be removed and all string, rope and sharp, or
potentially sharp objects should be taken away. He should eat with a spoon.
Specific treatments
Anxiety
For anxiety without depression, the drug of choice is diazepam. Begin with 5 mg three times a
day. If after 24 hours oftreatment the anxiety is not controlled increase the dose to 10 mg three
times a day. The dose can be adjusted up or down according to the effect observed over 24 hours.
For a person who is mildly anxious and not very restless a dose of 5 mg of Diazepam can be
given at night only to help them sleep.
Depression
5eek RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE. Diazepam in the doses described for anxiety can be given for a
person who is very agitated as well as depressed.
Obvious madness
If there are signs of severe mental illness, Chlorpromazine
intramuscular injection. Seek RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
25 mg should be given at once by
Neuralgia (Nerve pain)
Nerves
• sensory (incoming) nerves to the brain and spinal cord, relay sensations of pain, touch,
sight, hearing, smell, etc.
• motor (outgoing) nerves activate muscles to initiate movement.
As some nerves contain both sensory and motor fibres, disease or damage will cause loss of
sensation to an area of skin with paralysis of the muscles.
Neuralgia causes pain in part or whole of an area supplied by sensory nerves. The pain may
vary from slight to disabling. For relief of pain, see analgesics.
All severe or' recurrent cases of neuralgia should be referred to a doctor as soon as
practicable. Radio medical advice may be required.
Brachial neuralgia
This causes pain in the shoulder and down the arm. It often also affects the neck and spreads
from the neck over the head from back to front. It is usually due to acute or chronic
intervertebral disc damage and/or arthritis in the neck. If pain is severe and disabling, bed rest
and analgesics will be necessary. In milder cases, appropriate analgesics will be all that is
required. A neck collar may be applied.
Dental neuralgia - see toothache
Facial neuralgia Trigeminal neuralgia - (ITic Douloureux')
The patient is usually past middle age and develops intermittent intense pain in one side ofthe
face. The pain can be devastating. In severe cases it can be triggered by chewing, washing the
face or even by draughts of cold air. Always examine the mouth to exclude a dental cause.
The patient may need to rest in a darkened, draught-free, room. Medical advice by radio may
be necessary in severe cases if the usual analgesics are ineffective.
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Post-herpetic neuralgia
Following an attack of shingles (herpes zoster) some patients experience a persistent mild to
severe and disabling neuralgic pain which will require alleviation with analgesics.
Sciatica
This is pain radiating into the buttock and/or down the back of the leg. Treat as for fibrositis.
Paralysis
Paralysis occurs when the muscles cannot work and the patient complains that the affected part
feels heavy and dead, and he is unable to move it. It can be a complication of many diseases but
the commonest aboard ship is stroke.
Strokes
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to a part of the brain is suddenly cut off. This is caused by
a clot in, or breakage of a blood vessel inside the brain. It usually happens in middle-aged and
old people and can be a complication of high blood pressure. The symptoms will vary according
to the extent and severity of the clot or bleeding inside the brain and the site.
In a mild stroke the patient may feel suddenly confused, dizzy, sick, and unwell. He may notice
a feeling of weakness and heaviness of the limbs on one side of the body (hemiplegia). The face
on that side may also feel weak and appear to sag. Saliva may dribble from the corner of the
mouth and the speech is usually slurred. Recovery may occur within 24 hours, if so this is known
as a Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA)
In a severe stroke there is loss of consciousness, the breathing is heavy and laboured, and the
patient may lapse into a deepening coma and die.
Treatment
Regardless of his condition, put the patient to bed and get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE as soon as
possible. If unconscious or paralysed he should be nursed as described in Chapter 3.
Injury to spinal cord
Paralysis may also occur when the spinal cord is injured.
Ifthe spinal injury is situated in the small ofthe back it will result in a paralysis from the waist
down (paraplegia). If the spinal injury is situated in the neck all four limbs will be paralysed
(quadriplegia).
It is important to remember that in spinal injuries there will be paralysis of the bladder and
bowel and control will be lost over the excretion of urine and faeces.
There is no specific treatment for paralysed patients, other than nursing care described in
Chapter 3. Figures 3.1 and 3.2 show how to rest the patient in bed and support the paralysed
limbs. Gentle movement of the joints should be carried out several times a day to prevent
them seizing up.
Facial paralysis - Bell's palsy
This is paralysis of one side of the face. It is usually of rapid onset and it can be complete in a few
hours. The patient cannot close the eye or blink. Food may collect in the affected cheek and
there may be dribbling from the corner of the mouth which tends to droop. Recovery over a
period of time is the rule in the majority of cases.
The loss of blinking may lead to dryness ofthe eyeball and contamination by dust, an eye pad
should be worn, for protection. Conjunctivitis may develop and it should be treated with
antibiotic eye ointment. Otherwise the patient feels well and his general health is unaffected.
How to examine an ear
Compare the appearance of both ears. Look for swelling or redness of the pinna and the
surrounding area, and for discharge from the ear passage. Feel for tender or enlarged lymph
nodes around the affected ear and compare them with those of the other ear.
In a good light pull the pinna gently backwards and upwards to enable inspection further
inside the ear passage.
Press firmly on both mastoid processes. Tenderness of one may indicate middle ear or
mastoid infection.
Check the duration, intensity and nature of any earache. Establish if hearing has been
diminished or if there are added noises in the ear and if the senseof balance has been impaired.
Wax in the ear
Accumulated wax'may causeonly slight discomfort in the ear passagebut if it has hardened and
is near the ear drum, pain may be felt when swallowing or blowing the nose. Hearing is often
diminished and especially so if water gets into the passage. It is often possible to see the wax
plug when the entrance to the ear passage is examined in good light.
Treatment
No attempt should be made to scrape out the wax. If treatment is felt to be necessary,the
patient should lie down with the affected ear uppermost. Slightly warmed vegetable oil should
be put into the ear passage and left for five minutes before wiping away any drops which run
out when the head istipped sideways.
Repeat this treatment twice a day for three days. Do not put a cotton wool plug in the ear. If
relief of symptoms is not satisfactory, advice should be sought at the next port.
Infection of the outer ear (otitis externa)
This is a common infection in hot weather or after swimming, especially in the tropics and
sub-tropics. The condition frequently affects both ears whilst boils and middle ear infection
occur mainly in one ear. Pain is not a feature of the disease but the ear may be uncomfortable
and itch, with a discharge from the ear passage. The skin of the ear passage is liable to bleed
slightly and appears red, shiny and abraded.
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Treatment
The ear passages should be gently mopped out with cotton wool swabs, not cotton buds, until
dry. Sometimes it is better for the patient to do this for himself under supervision. When dry,
three drops of antibiotic ear drops should be put in one ear passage while the patient is lying on
one side. After five minutes in that position, the ear should be dried before the other ear is
similarly treated. Repeat the treatment three times per day for 3 to 7 days.
The patient must not swim or get water into his ears when washing until he has been seen by
a doctor or his ears have been normal for two weeks. Under no circumstances should cotton
wool or other ear plugs be used.
Boil in the ear
A boil in the ear passage causes a throbbing pain which increases in severity over several days.
When the boil is about to burst, there is a sudden stab of pain followed by a small discharge of
blood-stained pus with much relief of pain. If the pinna is gently drawn upwards and
backwards, it is often possible to see the boil in the ear passage. Pulling the pinna in this manner
usually increases the pain and confirms the diagnosis. An inflamed middle ear causes similar
pain but, pulling the pinna does not make the pain .worse.
The ear passage of the affected side may be obviously narrowed and red in comparison with
the other side. The lymph glands draining the infected area may be swollen and tender.
Treatment
Give paracetamol or codeine every 4 to 6 hours until the pain is controlled. Use antibiotic ear
drops three times per day until the pain goes. If the boil bursts, clean the ear passage which
should be kept clean and dry subsequently.
Infection of the middle ear (otitis media)
An infection of the nose or throat may spread to the middle ear cavity via the eustachian tube
(Figure 7.6).
When normal drainage of the middle ear through the eustachian tube is impaired, pressure
within the small cavity increases. Bulging of the ear drum can cause severe pain, which can be
very distracting for the sufferer. Infected secretions will then burst through the ear drum
causing a perforation.
At first there is deep seated earache, throbbing and nagging like toothache, with some
deafness and maybe noises in the ear. The patient feels ill and the temperature is raised. As
pressure rises the pain becomes worse until the ear drum perforates. Discharge through the
perforation brings relief of pain and fever. The lymph glands around the ear are not enlarged
.The mastoid bone may be tender to pressure firmly applied. The sequence of events may be
modified if the infection responds readily to the antibiotic treatment.
General treatment
The patient should be put to bed and the temperature, pulse and respiration rates recorded
four-hourly. Codeine tablets should be given six-hourly until the pain is controlled.
Specific treatment
Even if you only suspect that the patient may have otitis media you should give, as soon as
possible, in order to prevent perforation of the drum either:
•
ifthe patient is not allergic to penicillin - benzyl penicillin 600 mg intramuscularly
by the antibiotics by mouth e.g. Ciprofloxacin; or
• to patients allergic to penicillin - erythromycin
for five days.
500 mg followed
followed
by 250 mg every six hours
If the patient is not better at the end of the 5 days, seek RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
Chapter 7 OTHERDISEASESAND MEDICAL PROBLEMS
Subsequent management
When antibiotic treatment is completely successful, the inflammation will settle, pain and fever
will subside and there will be no perforation or discharge.
If perforation does occur the ear passage should be dried every two hours. Perforation does
not imply that the antibiotic has not worked. The full five day course of treatment must be
given.
When the patient feels better and has no fever he can be allowed out of bed but the ear must
be kept as clean and dryas possible. Warning: swimming or air travel are not advised until
approved by a doctor, to whom all casesshould be sent when next in port.
Infection of the mastoid cells
A middle ear infection sometimes spreads to the mastoid cells. This can happen at any time
during the course of a long-standing middle ear infection when a perforated ear drum
together with a septic discharge have been present for months or years.
In new middle ear infections mastoids should be suspected whenever a patient continues to
feel unwell, complains of earache and continuing discharge and is feverish 10 to 14 days after
the onset. There will be extreme mastoid tenderness even though a full course of antibiotics has
been given. There may be a tender, red swelling behind the ear and the pinna may be pushed
forwards. This is a serious complication which may require specialised treatment ashore. Get
RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
Eyes
Introduction
Figure 4.15 shows a diagram of the eye and how to examine an eye is described in Chapter 4.
Styes
A stye is an inflammation around the root of an eyelash. It begins as a general swelling and redness
ofthe eyelid near the affected eyelash accompanied by pain. It later takes on the appearance of a
small boil. Very often when one stye disappears, another appears. The condition requires little
treatment asthe stye usually bursts of its own accord. Any discharge should be wiped away with
sterile water of saline, and the surrounding skin should be kept as clean and dryas possible. If the
eyelid swells only slightly, there is no cause for concern. When the yellow 'head' appears, bathe
the stye with cotton wool swabs soaked in hot water. This will encourage the stye to discharge.
To prevent conjunctivitis in the affected eye, put antibiotic eye ointment onto the inner
surface of the lower lid every 6 hours. The patient should blink to spread the ointment after it is
applied. The vision may be blurred on doing this and it may sting. This treatment should be
continued until the stye has stopped discharging. Ifthe stye is still present on reaching port the
patient should see a doctor.
Chalazion
A chalazion is a cyst of the eyelid. An infected cyst is almost as common as a stye and can develop
in a matter of a few days. Put antibiotic eye ointment on to the inner surface of the lower lid
every 6 hours. The patient should blink to spread the ointment after it is applied. This treatment
should be continued until the condition clears. As there is a tendency to recurrence, the patient
should see a doctor at the next port.
Acute red eye - Conjunctivitis (inflammation of the eye)
The thin membrane (conjunctiva) which covers the eyeball (except the cornea) and the inside of
the eyelids is particularly liable to infection by germs. The condition is contagious and nearly
always affects both eyes. One red and painful eye is more likely to be caused by a foreign body or
by some other condition. Therefore examine the eyes, look for corneal damage and check for a
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history of an obvious alternative cause such as dust, smoke or a foreign body. At first
conjunctivitis causes the eyes to water, feel gritty, and look bloodshot. There is usually
considerable discomfort from pain and a sensation of heat. The watering soon thickens to a
yellow discharge, which tends both to stick the eyelids together during sleep, and to form crusts
at the lid margins when it dries.
Treatment
Advise the patient to use disposable paper towels ortissues for his face and eyes and to wash his
hands thoroughly after any contact with his eyes. Dark glasses should be worn and the eyes
must not be covered by a dressing. Bathe away the debris with sterile water or saline.
Specific treatment
Put antibiotic eye ointment on the inner surfaces of the lower lids and instruct the patient to
spread the ointment by blinking several times. This treatment should be continued once every
six hours until the eye has been white and clean for 24 hours.
Deep inflammation of the eye
This is suggested by severe pain in or around the eye, marked redness of the eyeball, blurring of
vision and profuse watering (as distinct from a sticky, yellow, discharge).
Treatment
RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE should be sought at the earliest opportunity. Meanwhile dark glasses
should be worn. Codeine 30 mg should be given six hourly, depending on the degree of pain.
A course of antibiotic treatment should be given.
Headache
A headache is a symptom of an illness and is not a disease in itself. Some of the more common
causes of headache are listed below and reference should be made to the relevant pages in the
guide.
Common causes:
• The onset of an acute illness and is then almost always associated with fever and feeling ill.
Examples are influenza and infectious diseases such as measles, typhoid, etc.
•
Common cold with associated sinusitis.
•
Over indulgence in alcohol.
• Tension headache caused by worry, work or family difficulties. They are not associated with
fever or feeling ill. This type of headache is sometimes associated with eye strain.
Lesscommon causes:
•
Migraine which usually occurs only on one side ofthe head and is associated with vomiting
and visual disturbances such as flashing lights.
•
Disease ofthe brain; acute, as with meningitis, and lessacute as seen with raised blood
pressure (by no means a common symptom), and a stroke.
Treatment
Always take the patient's temperature and, if raised, put to bed and watch for the possible
development of further signs and symptoms. Otherwise, give two paracetamol tablets, which
may be repeated four hourly. In cases of more severe pain read the section on analgesics.
All cases of persistent headache should be referred to a doctor at the first convenient
opportunity.
Chapter 7 OTHERDISEASES
AND MEDICALPROBLEMS
Sinusitis
Sinusitis is the inflammation of the accessory sinuses of the skull. These communicate with the
nose through small openings. The larger sinuses in both cheek bones (maxillary) and in the
forehead (frontal) are most commonly affected. Sinusitis usually begins suddenly, often during
or just after a head cold. The small opening of one or more sinuses becomes blocked and pus
will be trapped in the cavity causing local tenderness, pain and fever. The condition is often
worse on waking and gradually diminishes throughout the day.
Maxillary sinusitis - The pain is felt in the cheek bone and is increased by pressing firmly on the
bone or by tapping with a finger on the bone. The pain is usually made worse when the patient
bends forward. A foul tasting and smelling discharge into the back of the mouth and nose is
often present. Sometimes the eye of the affected side is bloodshot.
Frontal sinusitis - The pain is felt around the bony ridge which lies under the eyebrow and firm
pressure there and, sometimes, inward pressure on the corner of the eye socket next to the nose
will causetenderness. There may be an intermittent nasal discharge of pus from the infected sinus.
The patient is usually feverish and feels unwell. Sometimes the eye ofthe affected side is bloodshot.
General treatment
The patient should be put to bed and kept there until his temperature has been normal for 24
hours.
The patient may find steam inhalations helpful. Boiling water can be poured into a jug and
the steam inhaled, preferably with the head covered by a towel. Proprietary solutions are
available to add to the water, but are not essential. The patient should be told not to blow his
nose but to wipe it. Apart from being painful, blowing the nose may force the infection further
back and make the disease worse.
The patient should be told not to travel by air or to skin-dive until allowed to do so by a doctor.
Specific treatment
If the patient appears to have mild pain, his temperature is lessthan 38°C, and he does not feel
ill, give him the antibiotic treatment, e.g. Doxycycline.
If the patient has a lot of pain, is ill and has a temperature of 38°C or above, give him
benzlypenicillin 600 mg intramuscularly followed by 300 mg every 6 hours for S days; if the
patient is allergic to penicillin give him erythromycin SOOmg followed by 250 mg every 6 hours
for 5 days. If by the end of 5 days his temperature has not been normal for at least 24 hours
seek RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
For pain relief see Analgesics.
Teeth and'gums
Dental pain
Dental pain may be caused by disease of the tooth (usually dental decay, i.e. caries) or bydisease
of the gums (gingivitis).
Toothache
Toothache can arise from two basic causes, although the intensity of the pain may appear to be
similar. To provide relief it is important to distinguish between the two causes:
Toothache associated with a 'live' tooth
Pain may occur from a tooth as a result ofthe live nerve inside the tooth being irritated by dental
decay, sweet foods, or sudden temperature changes by food or hot drinks. Its constancy will vary
from minutes to hours. There is usually a cavity resulting from decay or from loss of a filling.
Touching the cavity will often cause a sudden sharp pain. The pain in a live tooth can often be
relieved by inserting into the cavity a wisp of cotton wool soaked in clove oil and giving analgesics.
Ifthis fails a temporary filling may be attempted but how much ofthe following you can do will
depend upon the amount of pain caused to the patient and the position of the cavity.
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Remove from the cavity any soft decayed tooth substance or loose filling, orfood. Then make
a temporary filling to protect the sensitive part of the tooth. To do this, put on a glass slab
enough zinc oxide powder, if available, to cover a 5p piece. Add 6 drops of oil of cloves, and mix
the two ingredients thoroughly; the mixture should have a consistency similar to putty. A wisp
of cotton wool can be added if the cavity is large. Before putting this filling into the cavity dry
the cavity with a small plug of cotton wool held in tweezers.
Toothache associated with a dental abscess
This will occur when the nerve in the tooth is dead and an abscessforms round the root of the
tooth in the jaw. The pain is not started or affected by sweet foods or changes of temperature.
Pressure applied to the tooth by a finger, or by clenching the teeth, or by tapping the tooth, will
usually give rise to greatly increased pain which will be of a throbbing or boring nature. The
face may become swollen and the abscess may 'point' on the gum. If this looks like bursting the
pus can be helped to escape and the pain relieved by making a small stab with a scalpel into the
centre ofthe abscess.Give the standard antibiotic treatment. The patient should see a dentist at
the next port of call.
Pain can be relieved by simple pain relievers, such as paracetamol (2 tablets of either every
four hours). Hot salt water mouthwashes are also helpful.
Gingivitis
Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums, and most adults suffer this complaint without feeling
any pain. If the patient feels some degree of pain, and there is a little bleeding, he should clean
his teeth carefully with a brush and use floss to clean in between them; he should massage his
gums with his fingertips, and wash his mouth regularly with slightly salty warm water or
antiseptic mouthwash.
If the gums become really painful, bleed easily and produce an offensive odour combined
with ulceration and a discharge of pus at the gum margin, an acute infection is probably present.
Antibiotic treatment may be given, such as metronidazole 400 mg 3 times per day for 3 days.
The patient should also be told to use a mouth wash and clean his teeth as above. He should
consult a dental surgeon at the next port. Note that alcohol taken during the course of
treatment with metronidazole may be followed by severe nausea.
All patients with this type of painful or bleeding gums should use disposable crockery and
eating utensils if possible; otherwise, they should be allocated crockery and eating utensils
which should be boiled for 10 minutes, or placed in disinfectant solution and rinsed well after
each use.
Peridontal disease - pyorrhoea
This is an advanced type of gingivitis which can cause pus to discharge around the tooth and the
tooth to become loose.
The patient should see a dental surgeon at the next port; but, in the meantime he should
wash his mouth regularly with slightly salty warm water, or antiseptic mouth wash, and be
given antibiotic treatment.
Ulcers of the mouth and gums
These ulcers may be caused either by an infection or by an injury (e.g. from a fish bone, or from
ill-fitting dentures). Inadequate cleaning of dentures may lead to mouth infections. Most
mouth ulcers will heal within a short time and medication will not accelerate this healing. A
mouth wash of slightly salty warm water or an antiseptic mouth wash may make the condition
more comfortable.
If the ulcer is due to a rough denture, the denture should not be worn until the ulcer healsin the meantime you may be able to make the rough part smooth.
Dental advice should always be sought if a mouth ulcer does not get better within a week.
Chapter 7 OTHERDISEASESAND MEDICALPROBLEMS
Th roat
Sore throat
Most sore throats are associated with the winter ailments of coughs and colds. Some are caused
by the inhalation of irritants or the consumption of too much tobacco. Most are relatively mild
but in others the tonsils or larynx may be inflamed.
Tonsillitis - This is the inflammation of the tonsils, the fleshy lumps on either side of the back of
the throat. The symptoms are soreness of the throat, difficulty and pain in swallowing, and a
general feeling of being ill with headache, chilliness, aches allover, all of which come on fairly
suddenly. The patient may find it difficult to open his mouth. He also looks ill and has a flushed
face. The tonsils will be swollen, red and sometimes covered with many yellow spots or streaks
of pus. The tonsillar lymph glands become enlarged and can be felt as tender swellings behind
the angles of the jaw on one or both sides. The temperature and pulse rates are normally raised.
If treatment does not appear to be helping after 2 to 3 days, glandular fever should be
considered as an alternative diagnosis. Feel for enlarged glands in the armpits and groin which
indicate glandular fever.
Laryngitis - This is inflammation of the voice box (larynx). In addition to the causes mentioned
for a sore throat the inflammation may be caused by over-use of the voice. There is generally a
sense of soreness of the throat, pain on swallowing, a constant dry irritating cough and the
voice is usually hoarse and may be lost altogether. Usually the temperature is found to be
normal and the patient does not feel ill. Occasionally however there is a slight fever and in other
casesbronchitis may be present.
Treatment for sore throats
Look at the throat for signs of infection; take the patient's temperature, and feel for tender
enlarged glands in the neck.
Patients with sore throats should not smoke.
Give patients with only a mild sore throat and no general symptoms of illness and fever
paracetamol to relieve the pain. The patient may find it helpful to gargle with antiseptic mouth
wash. Mild sore throats should not be treated with antibiotics.
Patients with tonsillitis, or a sore throat accompanied by a fever, and whose glands are
swollen and who feel generally unwell should be put to bed and can be given paracetamol and
a gargle as above. Give patients not allergicto penicillin; benzyl penicillin 600 mg intramuscular
followed by oral antibiotic treatment.
Subsequent management
Keep a check on the general condition of the patient and keep a record of his temperature,
pulse and respiration. Recovery will usually begin within 48 hours and the patient can be
allowed up when his temperature is normal and he feels better.
Peritonsillar abscess
(see below) can be a complication
following
tonsillitis
Peritonsillar abscess - quinsy
This is an abscesswhich can follow tonsillitis. It forms behind one tonsil, and the swelling pushes
the tonsil downwards into the mouth. The patient may find it so difficult and painful to swallow
that he may refuse to eat. He may have earache on the affected side. The swelling on the tonsil
will be extremely tender, and a finger pressing gently inwards just below and behind the angle
of the jaw will cause pain. There is usually fever, sometimes quite high. The throat will be red
and a swelling will be seen above the tonsil on the affected side.
General treatment
The patient should be put to bed and his temperature, pulse and respiration taken and
recorded every 4 hours. Give liquid diet or minced food in a sauce as solids are usually painful to
swallow. Ice cold drinks are much appreciated as they dull the pain and thus allow some fluid
and nourishment to be taken. Gargling with antiseptic mouth wash may be comforting.
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Specific treatment
Give the patient benzyl penicillin 600 mg intramuscularly at once, and repeat every 6 hours until
the patient is able to swallow; then continue with oral antibiotic treatment for 5 days.
If the patient is allergic to penicillin give erythromycin 500 mg every 6 hours for 5 to 7 days; if
necessary, crush the tablets in a teaspoonful of honey or jam, which the patient can wash down
with sips of water. Give 2 paracetamol tablets every 6 hours to relieve pain.
Subsequent management
A peritonsillar abscess may settle down with treatment or it may burst. If improvement is not
rapid seek RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE. The patient should be told that the abscess will be very
painful before it bursts, and that there will be severe pain, followed by a discharge of pus which
should be spat out, when the abscessdoes break. The patient should be given a mouth wash to
gargle with after the abscess breaks. Soon after the abscess has broken the patient will feel
much better and he can be allowed up when his temperature has remained normal for 24
hours.
LOCOMOTOR SYSTEM - MUSCLES AND BONES
Backache
Pain in the small of the back is a symptom of many conditions which affect the spine, spinal
ligaments, back muscles and nerves. Pain is usually the only symptom and the general health
remains normal. However, backache can be an indication of more serious underlying disease,
especially kidney disease, so in every case the urine should be tested for protein and the
temperature and pulse rate taken.
Simple backache
This is usually of sudden onset and it may follow a period of heavy work or some quick
movement of the back but it can appear for no known reason. The pain may vary from a dull
ache to a severe disabling pain. Some degree of spasm ofthe back muscles, which is made worse
by movement, is always present. With proper rest and appropriate treatment (muscular
rheumatism) the pain will settle down within several days. The patient may then be allowed to
be more active but heavy work is inadvisable.
Some patients have severe backache from the onset and, occasionally, the main leg nerve
becomes affected (sciatica). A sensation of numbness and tingling or a burning pain
travelling down the leg will then be present. If there is numbness or tingling around the
genital area or there is loss of control of the bowel action or urination seek RADIO MEDICAL
ADVICE.
Treatment
It is essential that the patient should keep the spine straight at all times. If a board to lie on can
be fitted to the bed, he should remain in bed in the position which is most comfortable.
Otherwise, he should lie on a hard, flat, surface with minimal padding until the pain eases.
Whenever possible, he should eat meals while standing with a straight back. He should be
washed in bed, but allowed to go to a lavatory rather than use a bed pan. Local application of
heat to the back (hot water bottle) will help to relieve muscle spasm and pain. If pain is severe
give Codeine Phosphate 60 mg at once. If pain continues it should be controlled with Morphine.
Treatment should be continued and the patient kept at rest until a doctor can be consulted at
the next port.
Gout - gouty arthritis
This is a disturbance of kidney function in which the excretion of a particular acid in the urine is
impaired. Crystals formed from the acid are deposited in, and cause inflammation of, tissues
such as cartilage and ligaments.
Chapter 7 OTHERDISEASES
AND MEDICALPROBLEMS
Gout often runs in families and affects men at or over middle age more frequently than women.
The first attack usually affects the big toe but recurrent attacks occur which may involve anyofthe
elbow or hand joints or those ofthe ankle or foot. It can even involve the ear cartilage. The attack
often happens during the night when the affected joint suddenly swells up and becomes severely
painful, especially on movement. The overlying skin becomes very red and shiny. The patient
often feels irritable and short-tempered before and during the attack. Mild fever may be present
but the general health is unimpaired. Attacks usually last for two or three days, then the joint
returns to normal. There may be a white/ yellow hard centre to the swelling, a gouty tophus.
General treatment
The patient should rest in bed. The application of either heat or ice to the affected joint may be
comforting.
An affected foot joint should be protected from pressure of bed clothes by the use of a bed
cradle. Alcoholic drinks should not be allowed.
Specific treatment
Give codeine 60 mg every six hours to relieve pain. The patient should insert into the rectum one
suppository of diclofenac 100 mg daily for two or three days.
Rheumatism
Acute rheumatism - rheumatic fever
This is an acute, feverish illness affecting young persons which is quite separate from
rheumatism in the popular sense (see muscular rheumatism).
Rheumatic fever starts fairly suddenly, although it may be preceded by a sore throat and a
general sense of illness together with pains flitting from joint to joint. The temperature rises
rapidly to between 38.9-40o( and then one or more of the joints becomes hot, swollen, red and
painful, especially on movement.
The joints most commonly affected are the knees, ankles, shoulders and wrists but not all the
joints are affected at once. The disease tends to attack first one and then another over a period
of two to six weeks. The patient sweats profusely and suffers the usual symptoms associated
with a high temperature.
There is a milder form of rheumatic fever in which the general symptoms and fever are less
severe although the characteristics of the disease remain unaltered. The most important aspect
of rheumatic fever is that more often than not it affects the heart as well as the joints. In that
event heart valve disease may develop later in life.
Treatment
The main objective is to avoid undue damage to the heart and to this end the patient must be
kept at absolute rest in bed in whatever position he finds most comfortable. He must not be
allowed out of bed for any purpose whatever. He should be fed and washed and he should use
a bedpan and urine bottle. General nursing principles must be followed closely. He should be
encouraged to drink plenty of water, fruit juice, milk or soup. The affected joints should be
wrapped in cotton wool for comfort. Diclofenac has a specific anti-rheumatic property and
should be give daily until the patient can be transferred to medical care as soon as possible.
Restlessness and sleeplessness should be treated with diazepam 5 mg at intervals of either
four or six hours according to the response to treatment.
Muscular rheumatism - fibrositis
Muscular rheumatism is a general term used to describe many aches and pains of uncertain
cause in the soft tissue of the trunk or limbs. There is usually muscular stiffness in the affected
part associated with local tender points (nodules). The general health is unaffected.
An attack often follows a period of physical or mental stress and it can vary from a mild ache
to a disabling pain. The shoulder region and neck or the lower back and buttocks are commonly
affected.
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Treatment
When discomfort is severe the affected part must at first be rested. Two paracetamol tablets
should be given four times a day until the pain is eased.
The affected part should be wrapped warmly and the application of local heat is beneficial.
Gentle massage will often bring relief especially after taking a hot bath. Normal activity should
be encouraged as soon as the acute symptoms subside.
Chronic rheumatism - osteo-arthritis
This term is often used to describe the stiffness and pain felt in a joint and nearby muscles when
degenerative change (wear and tear) has affected the joint. It is the commonest form of
arthritis affecting those of middle age and upward.
The weight-bearing joints of the lower trunk and spine are most often affected. Gradually
increasing pain and stiffness with some restriction of movement is noticed in one or more joints.
The symptoms are often worse after a period of inactivity. Although of gradual onset, the
condition may flare up during periods of over activity when symptoms resembling muscular
rheumatism may become more troublesome. Then rest is necessary to remove strain from the
joint. Local applications of heat together with diclofenac and/or paracetamol will relieve
symptoms. Medical advice on long-term treatment should be sought when convenient.
SKIN AND SUPERFICIAL TISSUES
Bites and stings
Animal bites
All animal bites should be treated by thorough washing (not scrubbing) with soap and water
and swabbing with antiseptic solution. All traces of soap should be removed before using the
antiseptic solution. The wound is then covered with a dressing. You should check that the
patient is protected against tetanus. If an hour or more later the wound is throbbing, the
patient should be given antibiotic treatment. Also read the section on rabies.
Rat bites
If a seafarer is bitten by a rat antibiotic
treatment
should be given.
Snake bites
Many snakes are harmless but there are three poisonous types:
• cobras, mambas, African spitting cobras, etc.;
• vipers and adders; and
• the highly poisonous sea snakes of the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
Snake bites are likely to occur ashore or from cargo. Unprovoked bites of humans never
occur. Even where a snake is disturbed and bites, shoes will usually give complete protection
against fang penetration.
There is usually local pain and swelling around a snake bite, except sea snake bites which
cause no local reaction but generalised muscle pains.
If large amounts of venom have been injected, shock occurs, with heart palpitations,
difficulty in breathing, collapse and sometimes convulsions. Delayed blood clotting may occur.
These symptoms can present within 15 minutes to an hour of the bite.
General management
The common symptom in snake bite is fright and fear of sudden death. Research has shown that
serious poisoning is rare in humans and death is highly exceptional. Reassurance is therefore
most important. Diazepam or alcohol in moderation are helpful for their calming effects.
Chapter 7 OTHERDISEASES
AND MEDICALPROBLEMS
If vomiting occurs, guard against inhalation, if necessary by putting the patient in the
unconscious position.
If the snake has been killed, it should be lifted with a stick into a container and retained for
identification. Do not attempt to find or kill a snake asthis might result in further bites. Do not
handle a dead snake as head reactions can persist for up to one hour.
Treatment
If bites occur ashore or in port, transport to hospital immediately. In other cases,seek RADIO
MEDICALADVICE giving, where possible, a description of the snake and the nature of the bite.
If the bite is on the hand, arm, foot or leg the best immediate treatment isto wipe the site of
the bite, cover with a dressing and apply a broad firm, but not tight, crepe bandage above the
bite. Alternatively, immobilise the whole limb by the same means. The bitten limb should be
moved as little as possible because movement spreads the venom.
Sucking the venom out of a bite is not generally recommended because of the danger of
aggravating bleeding, introducing infection and poisoning the person giving the treatment.
Vigorous sucking at frequent intervals may, however, be used for bites on the face and body
where immobilisation is not possible. The person sucking should spit out extracted venom.
If venom from a spitting cobra enters the eye, bathe the eye thoroughly with water.
Jellyfish
It is sensible not to swim in waters where jellyfish abound. If someone has a part of a jellyfish
stuck to him, this could contain sting cysts. Alcohol or methylated spirits should be applied to
the affected part to kill the undischarged sting cysts. The tentacles and slime should then be
scraped off. If no alcohol or methylated spirit is available, dry sand or any dry powder should be
thrown onto the sting. Do not rub the sting with wet hands or a wet cloth asthis will aggravate
the sting.
In severe cases,with rapid collapse, resuscitation may have to be carried out.
Poisonous fish
These exist in most tropical waters especially around
the islands of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. They
have long spines covered by venom-secreting tissues.
The stings cause an intense and often agonising local
pain.
If possible. immerse the affected part in the
hottest water the patient can bear. The pain is then
relieved within seconds. Remove the limb quickly
from the water to avoid blistering. Re-immerse as
pain recurs (usually after about 30 minutes). If the
affected part of the body cannot be immersed in hot
water (face or trunk) the puncture wound should be
injected with lignocaine 1% asfollows.
Prepare a syringe containing lignocaine 1%.
Swab the skin with antiseptic, and push the point of
the needle just under the skin. Inject sufficient
lignocaine to raise a small blob under the skin. Wait
for a few minutes to allow the anaesthetic to act.
Lower the barrel of the syringe so that the needle is
kept just under the skin, push it forward and inject a
further small amount of lignocaine (Figure 7.9). Pull
the needle back, move the barrel round through
about 60 degrees push the needle forward and
inject again. By repeating this process an area of
about 3 to 4 cm in diameter can be anaesthetised
(Figure 7.10).
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Sea urchins
The spines of sea urchins can produce painful injuries when they pierce the skin. This is
particularly true of the sea urchin found in the Mediterranean, off the coast of France, Spain
and in the South of England. This sea urchin has a black body 30 mm in diameter which is
covered with sharp purple spines about 25 mm long. Parts of the spines are left in or under the
skin. Remove these, after injecting lignocaine 1% if necessary. Wait for at least five minutes
before you start to cut the skin. If the patient complains of pain in any part, give a further
injection. Try to use the smallest possible amount to gain the maximum effect.
After removal, swab the skin with antiseptic solution and apply a dry dressing. If you think
that you have left part of the spine in the skin, refer the patient to a doctor at the next port, as
small cysts may develop which, when burst, can cause a recurrence ofthe severe burning pain.
Scorpions, centipedes and spiders
Local pain and fright are the commonest, and often the only, results from bites by these insects.
Stings and bites by a few varieties can, however, sometimes be painful, particularly in children.
In such cases apply pressure above the bite and suck the wound vigorously for five minutes
spitting out frequently anything sucked out of the bite. Wash the wound well with soapy water
and apply a dressing to the wound. If the pain remains severe, inject lignocaine 1% in the
manner suggested for poisonous fish spines.
Bee, wasp, hornet and ant stings
These are often painful and may be followed by considerable swelling. A sting in the throat may
cause obstruction to breathing. If you are in port and the swelling looks likely to be severe or
the sting is in the throat send the patient to hospital.
If the sting is still in the wound, try to remove it. If part of the sting is above the skin surface,
try to expel any remaining poison by running your thumbnail along the length of the sting
starting from its base. Wash with a cupful of water in which a teaspoonful of sodium
bicarbonate (baking soda) has been dissolved. A person who has been stung in the mouth or
throat should be given the sodium bicarbonate solution to drink and an ice cube to suck.
Some patients are very susceptible to stings. Allergic symptoms can start very quickly,
including rapid collapse.
Boils, abscesses and carbuncles
(see also cellulitis and whitlows).
Boils
A boil is an area of inflammation which begins at the root of a hair. It commences as a hard
raised red tender spot which enlarges. It may subside in two or three days but more often it
softens on the top and forms a yellow 'head'. The top breaks, the pus drains out, after which the
boil heals. Normally the boil does not cause an increase in body temperature but lymphangitis
may occur. Even a small boil can be very painful.
Carbuncles
A carbuncle is a collection of small boils very close together. The boils cause a large swelling
which is very painful. There may be a temperature rise to 38°( and the patient will feel ill.
Abscesses
An abscessis a localised collection of pus which gives rise to a painful throbbing swelling. At first
the swelling is red, hot, hard and very tender and after a day ortwo it becomes distended with pus
and increasingly painful. At this stage, the skin over it becomes thinned and purplish in colour
and it 'gives' slightly when it is lightly touched. There is usually a rise in temperature to 38 to 40°(,
The commonest sites for abscessesare on the arm, in the armpit, on the neck, in the groin and
beside the anus.
Chapter 7 OTHERDISEASESAND MEDICAL PROBLEMS
General treatment
Where there is a small boil with localised inflammation and no rise in temperature, there is no
need to give antibiotics. The area round the boil should be swabbed with antiseptic solution
and dried and a light dry dressing applied.
Where there is a large boil, a carbuncle or an abscess, any hair around the area should be
clipped short before swabbing. In these cases the specific treatment described below is
required. No boil, carbuncle or abscessshould be squeezed.
Always test the urine for glucose in any patient who has an abscess, carbuncle or bad boil.
The test is best carried out on a specimen of urine which is passed about 2 - 2'f2 hours after a
substantial meal. If glucose is found in the urine the patient should see a doctor at the next port
because he may have diabetes mellitus.
Specific treatment
For patients not allergic to penicillin, give benzyl penicillin 600 mg intramuscularly. At the same
time, start oral antibiotic treatment.
Subsequent management
The dressing should be changed daily. If a yellow 'head' appears it can be punctured with a
sterile scalpel to drain the pus. If the patient feels ill and has a temperature, he should be put to
bed and given two paracetamol tablets every 4 to 6 hours in addition to the specific treatment.
As the discharge is infected, you should dispose of the dressing carefully, sterilise any
instruments or bowls you have used, and wash your hands thoroughly.
Cellulitis
This is a septic skin condition but, unlike an abscess, the inflammation spreads under the skin
without becoming localised. The skin is red and swollen and, when the infection has taken hold,
the skin will pit on pressure as in oedema. The patient will usually feel unwell and shivery, and
often has a headache and fever. The nearby lymph nodes will become enlarged and painful.
General treatment
All patients with fever should be put to bed. If the swelling is other than very slight, the part
should, if possible, be elevated.
Specific treatment
Give benzyl penicillin 600 mg intramuscularly
antibiotic treatment.
if the patient is not allergic to it, and then oral
Hand infections
Many infections of the hands could have been prevented by simple measures which are often
neglected in practice. Small scratches, cuts, abrasions or pricks should never be ignored and
they should be treated by thorough washing in soap and water before being covered by a
protective dressing. Patients with hand infections must not handie/prepare food.
Inflammation and suppuration of a hand or finger wound may lead to internal scarring
which could result in some loss of hand function. It is always advisable to start a course of
standard antibiotic treatment as soon as the signs of inflammation affect a hand or finger.
For more than just a minor hand infection, get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
Some common finger infections are described in this section.
Pulp infection
The top segment of a finger (with the nail on one side and the fleshy pulp on the other side) is
completely shut off inside from the rest of the finger. An infection of the pulp will cause a rapid
increase of internal pressure in the segment which can result in lasting damage unless treatment is
promptly given. Infection may follow quite a trivial injury such as a needle prick, thorn scratch, or
other minor puncture wounds. Slight soreness ofthe pulp within a few hoursof injury may quickly
progress to a severe throbbing pain accompanied by redness and tense swelling ofthewhole pulp.
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Treatment
When symptoms start give benzyl penicillin 600 mg intramuscularly and begin oral antibiotic
treatment. The patient should remain at rest with the hand elevated above shoulder height.
Pain should be relieved by two paracetamol tablets every 4 to 6 hours but, if the pain is severe in
the early stages, codeine 30 mg, six hourly may be necessary.
Inflammation around the base of a nail
(Paronychia or Whitlow)
Infection has usually entered through a split at one corner of the nail skin fold, and spreads
round the nail base. The semicircle of skin becomes shiny, red, swollen and painful.
General treatment
The arm should be kept at rest in a sling.
Specific treatment
A course of antibiotic treatment should be given. With treatment, the infection usually subsides
without pus formation. If pus should form it can often be seen as a small 'bead' just under the
skin. The pus should be released by making a tiny cut over the 'bead', with a scalpel blade or
large injection needle. A paraffin gauze dressing under a dry dressing should be applied twice
daily until the discharge has finished. Protective dry dressings should then be applied until
healing is completed.
Skin diseases
The skin may be affected in many diseases. This is especially so in infectious diseases such as
chickenpox and measles. Recognition and treatment of the underlying condition will be the
appropriate cure for such skin eruptions. Any patient with a skin problem should therefore be
questioned on his general state of health and, if necessary, an appropriate examination should
be made.
Some skin diseases remain localised but, as their spread may be unrecognised by the patient,
it is usually best to inspect the skin as a whole. The origin, and the later distribution, together
with the duration and nature ofthe eruption, should be noted.
Barber's rash - sycosisbarbae
This is an infection of the hair roots (follicles) of the beard area of the face and neck which is
caused by shaving. The area affected is usually small at first but is spread more widely by an
infected razor, shaving brush, hand towel or by rubbing the face with the hand. At the onset
each affected hair root is surrounded by a small, red spot which soon develops into a septic
blister. The blisters invariably break and form crusts.
General treatment
The patient should stop shaving at once and, if desired, facial hair should be kept short by
clipping with scissors.The razor should be replaced or sterilised in boiling water for at least ten
minutes before use after the condition has cleared. Rubbing or scratching the face should be
discouraged. Disposable paper tissues or towels should be used.
Specific treatment
Give oral antibiotic treatment. If weeping is present, the affected area should be bathed several
times a day with a solution of a small pinch of potassium permanganate in one litre of water.
This may cause a temporary discoloration of the skin which will soon disappear when treatment
ends.
Chapter 7 OTHERDISEASES
AND MEDICALPROBLEMS
Chaps
These are cracks on the backs of the hands, feet, lips, ears or other parts of the body caused by
exposure to cold wind or salt water, or by washing in cold weather without drying the skin
properly. There is often much irritation and pain. The affected parts should be freely smeared
with vaseline and kept warm. Gloves should be worn.
Chilblains
The chilblain is a painful, red swelling of the skin caused by exposure to cold. The ears, fingers
and toes are most often affected.
Susceptible persons should always be warmly clad in cold conditions because this is the one
effective preventive measure. Most sufferers have learned by experience the type of treatment
which suits them. However, as a general measure the chilblain should be kept clean by washing
with soap and water, then smeared with zinc oxide ointment.
Dermatitis
Most of the dermatitis seen on board ship is due to irritation of the skin by substances which have
been handled or misused. In a much smaller number of cases,the cause is allergy. The common
irritants which cause dermatitis are detergents, cleaning powders, solvents, oil and paraffin.
There are various types of dermatitis but, in most cases, the condition starts as a diffuse
reddening of the affected skin. Soon small blisters form on the reddened area and, later, these
blisters break, releasing a thin, yellowish fluid which forms crusts. There is usually considerable
irritation ofthe skin.
An attempt should be made to identify the irritant which has caused the dermatitis. The
patient should then avoid contact as far as possible with any known cause. It should be borne in
mind that a substance, e.g. detergent, with which the patient has been in contact for some time
without any adverse effect may suddenly become an irritant.
Specific treatment
Applya thin smear of hydrocortisone 1% ointment to the affected part three times daily. If the
skin is weeping it should be bathed in a solution of a small pinch of potassium permanganate in
1 litre of water then patted dry with a paper tissue before the hydrocortisone is applied.
Athlete's foot
The web between the little and adjacent toe on both feet is first affected. The skin is thickened
and split but later becomes white, sodden and looks dead. The condition may spread to other toe
webs and also to the tops and soles of the feet. In severe infections the affected area may be red,
inflamed and covered with small blisters which may weep or become septic. Itching is usually
present. This condition can be passed from person to person through wearing others' seaboots
and in bathrooms. Personal hygiene to avoid the spread of infection is therefore important.
Treatment
The feet should be washed morning and night with soap and water before each treatment.
Loose shreds of white sodden skin should be removed gently using paper tissues before
applying a thin smear of benzoic acid compound ointment or miconazole cream. In severe
cases, before applying the ointment, the feet should be bathed in a solution of a small pinch of
potassium permanganate in 1 litre of water. If benzoic acid compound ointment causes
smarting and irritation, miconazole nitrate cream may be used instead. Cotton socks which can
be boiled should be used.
Dhobie itch
This is a form of ringworm (caused by a fungus). The inner surfaces of the upper thighs are
affected by intensely itchy, red, spreading patches which often extend to the crutch and involve
the scrotum. The patches have a well-defined, slightly scaly, raised margin. The armpits may be
similarly affected.
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Always look for the presence of athlete's foot which may be the source of infection. If this is
present, it must be treated at the same time to prevent reinfection.
Treatment
Cotton underpants, preferably boxer shorts, should be worn and changed daily. They should be
boiled after use. Benzoic acid compound ointment or miconazole cream should be applied to
the affected area twice daily and treatment should continue for two weeks after the condition
has cleared. The ointment should not be applied to the scrotum but, if it is affected, miconazole
cream should be used alone.
Ringworm - tinea
See also dhobie itch.
Ringworm is a fungus infection which produces rings on the skin. Each ring is red with a peeling
and slightly swollen outer edge where the live fungus is advancing towards un infected skin.
The normal-coloured area in the centre of the ring is skin healed after the fungus has passed.
The rings may join or overlap each other.
General treatment
The fungus cannot survive on cold dry skin, but thrives on hot sweaty skin. Anything which can
be done to keep the temperature down and the skin dry is beneficial. Sunlight, provided the
patient does not sweat, is of help. Air conditioning and cool breezes are always beneficial.
If the affected area is normally covered, cotton clothes should be worn and boiled for
10 minutes each day after use.
Specific treatment
Applya small amount of benzoic acid compound ointment to the advancing edge of each ring
twice a day until the condition clears.
Impetigo
This skin infection usually affects the exposed parts such as the face and hands. It starts as a
thin-walled blister which soon breaks and becomes covered with an amber-coloured crust
which gives the impression of being 'stuck on'. The surrounding skin is often not reddened. The
eruption spreads rapidly, especially on the beard area ofthe face and neck. It sometimes affects
the skin folds around the mouth, nose and ears, where it may cause red, sodden cracks. In severe
cases the scalp may be affected. It is a highly contagious disease which is easily spread by the
patient to other parts of his body, or to other persons, unless strict precautions are taken.
General management
The high risk of contagion should be explained to the patient who should not touch the
eruptions. For a male patient, if the face is affected he should not shave and the beard should
be clipped using scissors. Disposable paper tissues or towels should be used and any bedding,
clothing or equipment likely to have been in contact with the eruption should be thoroughly
boiled after use. The hands should be washed thoroughly after the affected area has been
bathed, or unintentionally touched.
Infected food handlers in the catering department should be removed from duty until the
condition has cleared.
Specific treatment
Give oral antibiotic treatment. If the condition has not responded satisfactorily after 5 days,
give an alternative antibiotic treatment and seek RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE. The affected area
should be bathed twice a day for about 10 minutes using a solution of a small pinch of
potassium permanganate in 1 litre of water. The skin should be dried using disposable paper
tissues. Facial eruptions should be left uncovered but those on the hands or any part covered by
clothing should be protected with a dry dressing which should be changed daily.
Chapter 7 OTHERDISEASES
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Pediculosis -lice
Three varieties of lice live on human beings- head lice, body lice, and crab (pubic) lice. They bite
the skin to obtain blood for nourishment, thereby causing itching with consequent scratching
and sometimes infection in the bite marks. Female lice lay many eggs which hatch out within a
fortnight. The eggs (nits) are pin-head sized objects which adhere either to hair shafts (head
and crab lice) or to seams of underclothes (body lice).
Head lice
The hair at the back and sides of the head is usually more heavily infested. If scratching has
caused infection this may be seen as septic places which resemble impetigo. The adjacent lymph
glands in the neck may be enlarged and tender.
Treatment for head lice
Wet the patient's hair and rub in Permethrin cream rinse. Do not wash the head until 24 hours
later. Anyone who has lain on the patient's bed should be told that he or she may catch the
infestation and should be treated as above ifthere is any doubt. Change the bed linen.
Combing wet hair with plenty of conditioner applied, using a nit comb, will help to detect
lice and eggs.
Other body lice - including crab lice
Crab lice {pubic lice} - see Sexually Transmitted
Diseases- Chapter 6
Other body lice. These lice spend most of their time on bedding and underclothing where their
eggs are laid. They crawl to the skin to feed and sometimes attach eggs to the body hair before
returning. Itching may be persistent and scratch marks, especially at the back of the shoulder,
the waist and the buttocks may be found. If infestation is suspected, it is essential that the seams
of the underwear should be carefully inspected for the presence of eggs and lice.
Treatment for lice other than head lice
The skin of the affected areas should be washed thoroughly with soap and water and then
dried. Lindane 1% lotion should be applied thinly to the skin of the whole body (this
preparation is not included in the scale of medical stores but Permethrin in isopropylalcohol
is not suitable for treating body/pubic lice). The patient should not have a bath or shower for
24 hours. A single application is usually sufficient.
After this treatment, bedding should be changed and clean clothes worn. Used bedding and
clothing should be suitably disinfested.
Prickly heat
This complaint commonly affects persons on first entering tropical climates and particularly
when heat is associated with high humidity. It usually affects those areas where clothing rubs or
is tight, such as the waist line and neck, but skin folds and the limbs may also be involved. The
rash appears at first as scattered, small red pimples which prick or sting rather than itch, to the
extent that sleep may be disturbed. In the centre of the pimples very tiny blisters may develop
which may be broken and infected by scratching.
Prickly heat may be associated with heat illness, when a complaint of tiredness, loss of
appetite and a headache may be made.
Treatment
The patient should avoid vigorous exercise or any activity that leads to increased sweating.
Clothing should be light, porous and loose fitting. Sufficient cold showers should be taken to
relieve symptoms and remove sweat but soap should not be used on the affected part because
frequent use may remove the natural skin oils.
Afterwards, the skin should be dried by gentle patting rather than rubbing. The eruption
should be dabbed with calamine lotion, if available. The condition may be expected to
disappear ifthe patient can move to a cooler climate or remain in air conditioned surroundings.
If sleep is disturbed, diazepam S mg may be given.
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Scabies
SeeSexually Transmitted Diseases- Chapter 6.
Shingles - herpes zoster
Shingles is a painful disease in which whitish blisters with red margins occur on the skin along
the course of a nerve - usually a single nerve in the wall of the chest, but sometimes a nerve of
the face or thigh normally one side of the body only. The first symptoms of shingles are much
like those of any feverish attack. The person may feel unwell for a few days with a slight rise of
temperature and vague pains allover. The pain then settles at a point on one side of the body,
the skin is red and tender there, and on examination the blisters are discovered varying in size
from a pin's head to a pea. These increase in number and spread for a day or two until, quite
often, there is a half-ring round one side of the affected part of the body. The blisters burst
within about a week or ten days, and dry up with scabbing, but, particularly in more elderly
persons, the pain may continue long after the scabshave fallen off.
NOTE: This condition can affect the eye causing severe pain and potential blindness - SEEK
RADIO MEDICALADVICE.
Treatment
The affected skin should not be washed. Dust the area frequently with talc or apply calamine
lotion, if available, and allow to dry. Some further slight relief of discomfort may be given by
covering the area with dry lint. Give pain relief.
Urticaria - nettle rash
This isa sensitivity reaction ofthe skin in which itchy, raised weals similar to nettle stings appear.
The cause may be apparent when the reaction is localised and is a response to an insect bite or
jellyfish sting but any part of the skin may be affected and no precipitating cause may be found.
Sometimes nettle rash appears suddenly if a particular food (e.g. shellfish or fruit) has been
eaten. The patient is usually aware of similar episodes in the past. In like manner, medicines or
injections may cause skin reactions and nettle rash is a common manifestation. The penicillin
family of antibiotics is the most common offender and when these are given by injection, a
severe reaction may occur. Other commonly used medicines, which either cause nettle rash or
make it worse, are aspirin and codeine.
Nettle rash is usually easy to recognise as a slightly raised, reddened area with a hard white
centre. Weals usually appear quickly, then subside only to be replaced by other weals at another
part of the skin. This pattern may be present over a few hours or days and then cease. The
patient does not usually feel ill but is often alarmed and should be reassured that the condition
is seldom dangerous.
General treatment
Always enquire from the patient if he knows of any possible causefor the rash and check on all
drugs which the patient is now taking or has been taking in the last few weeks and on all
substances which he has handled or touched. If the cause can be identified and removed, no
further attacks will occur. Should the cause not be removed, treatment by medicines can only
suppress or damp down the reaction without curing the condition.
Specific treatment
To alleviate the rash give anti-histamines e.g. Astemizole for 5 days depending upon the
severity of the rash. If the patient has not seen a doctor continue treatment until the condition
subsides. Always warn the patient that the drug may sooner or later make him sleepy and that
alcohol will increase the side effects.
Chapter 7 OTHERDISEASES
AND MEDICAL PROBLEMS
GENERALISED
ILLNESSES
Alcohol abuse
Warning
Breath smelling of alcohol means that a drink has been taken; it does not tell how much has
been consumed, nor does it mean that the condition of the patient is due to alcoholic
intoxication. Head injuries, certain drugs such as sleeping tablets, and some illnesses can make
a patient behave as if he were drunk (Note, low blood sugar is easily missed). Therefore, always
assume that the person may have other injuries or may be ill until you have examined him
carefu lIy.
Deaths of seafarers are recorded every year either as a direct result ofthe excessive drinking
of liquor, or from accidents, such as falling from wharves and gangways, whilst under the
influence of drink. In addition there have been cases where seafarers, brought on board in a
semi-comatose condition, have been simply put to bed and have been found dead some hours
later either as a result of absorbing a fatal quantity of alcohol from their stomachs or being
choked, i.e. asphyxiated, by their own vomit.
Being extremely drunk may therefore place a person in a critical condition. Accordingly,
drunkenness, common though it may be, should never be ignored or regarded as merely funny.
On the contrary, anyone returning on board in a severely drunken state should be treated as
sick persons, requiring close watching and careful nursing if their lives are not to be further
jeopardised.
Ordinary drunkenness
A description of this is scarcely necessary except for the sake of comparison with other forms of
drunkenness. The person has poor control of his muscles, finding it difficult to walk or talk
properly and being unable to perform commonplace actions such as lighting a cigarette. The
face is flushed and the whites of the eyes may be 'bloodshot'. He may vomit. He may be in a
happy, excited mood, or fighting drunk, or he may cry and be very depressed owing to the loss
of his normal controlling powers of reason and judgement.
Dead drunk
Alcohol in any form is a poison; and when a large amount has been taking during a short time,
especially on an empty stomach, serious poisoning or intoxication may develop. This may prove
fatal as a result of respiratory or heart failure. The drinking of alcohol in ports abroad, where
poisonous spirit of illicit origin is frequently offered to seafarers, is especially dangerous.
Someone who is 'dead drunk' lies unconscious with slow noisy breathing, dilated pupils, a rapid
pulse, and some blueness ofthe lips. The breath will smell of alcohol but beware that stupor or
coma may not always be solely due to drink. The signs of a drunken stupor are much like those
of other conditions causing unconsciousness. The person must be examined carefully to make
as sure as possible that it really is a case of alcoholic poisoning.
Treatment
People who are drunk but conscious should be encouraged to drink a pint of water to prevent a
hangover caused by alcoholic dehydration and to go to bed. If they are seriously drunk they
should not eat anything until they have recovered. It is advisable that someone stays with a
person who is seriously drunk because he may inhale his vomit whilst asleep.
If in port, a person unconscious from alcohol should be sent to hospital. If the patient has to
be kept on board, he should be put to bed and managed as in the routine for unconscious
patients. Remember that he should never be left alone in case he moves out of the unconscious
position and then dies from inhaling vomit.
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THE SHIPCAPTAIN'SME'DICALGUIDE
Hangover
A hangover is usually made up of a headache, a general feeling of being unwell and a stomach
upset. The patient should not take further alcohol. He should take plenty of non-alcoholic
fluids to combat the dehydration caused by the alcohol, paracetamol tablets and, if necessary,
an antacid, e.g. magnesium trisilicate compound 250 mg.
The stomach upset and other complaints will usually settle within 24 to 36 hours if the
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The shakes
The shakes is a sign of withdrawal of alcohol in a person who has, over a long period of time,
become dependent on, and habituated to, alcohol. Trembling ofthe hands, shaking ofthe body,
and sweating will appear in the morning when a person has not had alcohol since the previous
evening. The alcoholic, for that is what he is, usually prescribes his own cure by taking a further
drink. On board ship during a voyage it is reasonable to allow a small dose of alcohol in such
circumstances provided that the patient is not showing any sign of mental or emotional imbalance.
The patient should be referred for treatment of his alcoholism at the earliest opportunity.
DT's (Delirium Tremens)
An attack of the Dr's can be a serious medical emergency. It occurs only in people who have
been regular heavy drinkers for many years. Attacks do not follow a single 'blind' by someone
who normally takes only a small or moderate amount of alcohol. On the other hand, it is often
a bout of drinking (such as a seafarer, who is a chronic alcoholic, may indulge in after a
prolonged voyage) which leads to an attack, or it may be brought on when a heavy drinker has
an injury or illness which results in the sudden cessation of his excessive 'normal' intake.
The patient with delirium tremens is at first irritable and restless, and will not eat. These early
signs are followed by shaking all over, especially ofthe hands. He is confused and may not know
where he is and may not recognise those around him. He perspires freely, the temperature may
rise to 39.4°C, the face is flushed, and the tongue is furred. He may be extremely disturbed, or
even raving; this is usually worse at night (night terrors) when he is unable to sleep, and sees
imaginary creatures like snakes, rats and insects, which frighten him and which he may try to
pursue. He may deteriorate to a state of delirium in which there is a danger of his committing
suicide or even homicide. This condition usually lasts for three or four days, after which the
patient either improves and begins to acquire natural sleep, or else passes into coma, complete
exhaustion and death.
It is the mental and emotional imbalance which differentiates the Dr's from the shakes.
General treatment
The patient should be confined and nursed as described for the mentally ill. There should be
subdued lighting by day and by night to reduce as far as possible the imaginary visions he is
likely to see. He should be encouraged to drink plenty of sweetened fluid and, if he will eat,
should be given food. The attack may end with the patient sleeping for up to 24 hours.
Specific treatment
First try to calm the patient with a glass (50 ml) of whisky. If this proves unsuccessful, physical
restraint will be necessary. In either event then give chlorpromazine 50 mg by intramuscular
injection. This may be repeated after 6 hours if the patient is still uncontrolled. In addition give
diazepam 10 mg by mouth or per rectum and repeat 4 hourly until the patient is calm. Once
treatment is started, it is essential that no more alcohol is given.
If in any doubt about diagnosis or treatment get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE. In any event refer
the patient for treatment of his alcoholism at the earliest opportunity.
Subsequent management. When a person has got over an attack of Dr's it is vital to make
sure that no further accessto alcohol is possible. Alcoholics are often very cunning and devious.
They frequently have hidden bottles in their cabin and work areas and may try to get to these
bottles or may 'con' other people into fetching their bottle of 'medicine' to them. They are also
very over optimistic about their chances of changing and abstaining.
Chapter 7 OTHERDISEASESAND MEDICAL PROBLEMS
Allergy
Allergy is caused by hypersensitivity to one or more of a very wide range of substances.
Common causes are dust, pollen, strawberries, nuts and shellfish which may provoke reactions
which include asthma, dermatitis/eczema urticaria ('nettle rash') and penicillins.
Major allergic reaction
Major reactions occur within seconds or minutes of contact with
which may have been taken by mouth or inhalation or introduced
sting. In the very worst type of allergic attack, the patient may
become pale, sweat and feel dizzy. The heart beat may become
consciousness and, unless treated promptly, he may die.
the incompatible substance
by medical injection, bite or
suddenly begin to wheeze,
so feeble that he may lose
General treatment
If the patient becomes unconscious, place him at once in the recovery position and ensure that
breathing is not obstructed. If breathing is weak or stops, give artificial respiration and heart
compression if required. The usual 'ABC' applies.
Specific treatment
Give 0.5 ml of adrenaline 1 in 1,000 intramuscularly as soon as possible. If no improvement is
observed in 2 to 3 minutes, repeat the injection and move the patient to a hard surface in case
he has to be resuscitated.
NOTE: Make very sure that you do not inject adrenaline into a blood vessel. When the needle is
inserted under the skin, pull the piston back and ensure that blood does not enter the syringe
before adrenaline is injected.
Subsequent management
The patient must be kept in bed and under observation for at least 24 hours following a severe
allergic reaction. Treatment should be continued by giving anti-histamines e.g. Astemizole for
5 days, and possibly steroids SEEKRADIO MEDICAL ADVICE. No alcohol should be allowed. It is
essential that the patient should understand that contact with the incompatible substance
must be avoided in the future and he should be advised to inform his family doctor. The
circumstances of the episode should be recorded and the shipping company informed when
convenient. A 'MedAlert' bracelet may be advisable in the future.
NOTE: Warn the patient that he may become dizzy or drowsy whilst taking antihistamines.
He should not keep watch or work with machinery until the effect of the treatment is known
with certainly. Also tell him that alcohol will increase the side effects and should not be taken
during the period of treatment.
Lesser allergic reactions
These are usually delayed, any appearance occurring some time within the first day to one
month after contact. The skin is usually affected. Slight cases may just show red areas of skin but
widespread urticaria, nettle rash, with intense itching may occur. Additional symptoms may be
joint pains and fever.
Specific treatment
Give anti-histamines e.g. Astemizole for 5 days.
NOTE: No alcohol should be allowed. This treatment may cause drowsiness and dizziness so
the patient should remain off duty until the effect of treatment is known.
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THE SHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Anaemia
Anaemia is a condition which is the result of a reduction in the number of red cells circulating in
the body or a reduction in the iron content of these cells.
It can result from haemorrhage of a large volume of blood or from constant loss of small
amounts of blood, from destruction of the red cells in certain diseases or from the deficient or
defective formation of the red cells.
Anaemia is difficult to diagnose without laboratory facilities but you may notice when you
are carrying out your examination of a patient that the membranes ofthe mouth are pale when
compared with those of a healthy person. The colour of the cheeks is no guide as such things as
fever and excitement will redden them whilst natural sallowness of the complexion simulates
extreme pallor.
The symptoms of anaemia vary but they are best summarised as those of physical weakness
and rapid fatigue.
If you think that a person is anaemic, refer the patient to a doctor at the next port of call so
that a blood examination can be undertaken, the correct type of anaemia diagnosed and the
correct treatment prescribed.
Common cold, cold in the head
Anyone who has a bad cold and a temperature, and who is generally unwell should go to bed
until his temperature settles and his nose stops streaming. This may also help to stop the spread
of the cold to other seafarers.
Treatment
There is no specific treatment to cure a cold. Any treatment given only aims to make the patient
feel better. Simple pain relieving drugs such as paracetamol are useful. Do not give antibiotics.
Plenty of fluid should be taken.
Warning: Anyone who is deaf or slightly deaf as a result of a cold should not travel by air or skin
dive.
Diabetes
This condition develops when the body is unable to produce enough insulin to cope with the
sugar that is taken in with the diet. It is characterised by loss of weight, weakness, excessive
thirst, and the frequent passage of large quantities of urine. These symptoms may be modified
according to the age of the patient.
In young people the symptoms are present in a more severe form and the disorder may show
itself as a rapid, acute illness. In older people, particularly if overweight, it may come on more
gradually and only be suspected by the development of thirst and the passing of more urine
than usual. In both age groups the disease may show itself by successive crops of boils or
carbuncles. Diabetes can be made worse by infection.
If you suspect diabetes, test the urine for sugar about 2 to 3 hours after a large meal. If the
test is positive and if the other symptoms of diabetes are present, it should be assumed that the
patient is suffering from the disease until proved otherwise.
Treatment
Put the patient on a strict diet avoiding starchy or sugary foods. This will normally avoid
complications such as coma (see below) until full diagnosis and treatment can be carried out
under medical supervision.
Two kinds of coma can occur in diabetes:
•
Diabetic coma can occur as the first sign of diabetes in the young person with the acute
form ofthe disease, or develop in the known diabetic when the insulin level is too low and
the sugar in his blood has risen too high, especially if they have a concurrent infection .
•
Insulin coma is seen in the known diabetic who has taken too much insulin or not enough
food and whose blood sugar is too low. This can also occur if they burn off too much sugar
by more than their usual amount of exercise.
Chapter 7 OTHERDISEASES
AND MEDICALPROBLEMS
The following
table helps to distinguish these two types of coma:
Diabetic Coma - High Blood Sugar
Insulin Coma - Low Blood Sugar
Onset
Gradual
Sudden
Temperature
Initially below normal
Normal
Pulse
Rapid, weak
Normal
Respiration
Laboured, deep gasping
Normal or sighing
Skin
Blue tinge, dry
Sweating common
Breath
Smell of acetone (sweet like nail
varnish or musty apples)
No sweet smell
Tongue
Dry
Moist
Dehydration
Present
Absent
Mental State
No disturbances
Confusion,sometimes
Vomiting
Common
Rare
Urine - Sugar
Much present
Trace or absent
Urine - Ketone
Present
Absent
fits
If the patient is unconscious you may be able to confirm your diagnosis from clues in his
belongings. A known diabetic taking insulin or another diabetic drug may carry a supply of
sugar or sweets. He may have an identity card or bracelet or neck chain stating he is diabetic,
if not, he should be advised to get one for next time! Treat him as for an unconscious patient
and get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
If the patient is passing into a coma but not unconscious and the problem seems to be too
little insulin, ask him if he has any insulin and get his advice on how much to give. If he has none,
put him to bed, and get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE. If the problem is too much insulin and he is
still conscious then give him four lumps or two heaped teaspoons of sugar dissolved in warm
water or milk, at once and keep him under strict observation. If he responds to this then a light
carbohydrate meal should be given, such as some sandwiches, to stop the sugar falling again.
If it is difficult to distinguish between the two conditions, give a conscious patient the sugar,
as it will do no harm, even iftoo little insulin is present. Low blood sugar is far more dangerous.
If in doubt, always obtain medical advice.
Note on insulin
and other
drugs
There are a number of different kinds of insulin which vary in strength and length of action, and
all are given by injection. There are also other drugs used to control diabetes and these are in
tablet form. If you have to give insulin or other drugs to a diabetic always check the instructions
on the container very carefully. Insulin should only be given in accordance with advice from a
doctor. Insulin dependant diabetics should not generally be employed at sea -see MSN 1712(M).
Drug abuse
It is a matter of great concern that some seafarers obtain and use drugs illegally.
The commonest drug used by seafarers is cannabis or pot. When it is smoked there is an
odour of burnt leaves or rope. Attempts will be made to disguise that smell. Pot smoking is
more often a communal than a solitary activity.
It is very difficult to identify by inspection the various 'hard' drugs as they are supplied in
various shapes, sizes, colours and consistencies.
Prolonged use of any drug results in mental deterioration and personality changes of varying
degree. It may be very difficult for a ship's officer to differentiate between the drug user and
the person suffering from some form of mental illness.
The signs and symptoms of addiction vary according to the drug which is being used and the
picture may be complicated by the user mixing two drugs to obtain maximum effect. The
symptoms may be sudden in onset because of overdose or withdrawal, or they may appear
slowly during prolonged use.
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THE SHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Here are some indications which may assist in deciding upon a diagnosis of drug abuse:
•
Unexplained deterioration
in work performance;
•
Unexplained changes in the pattern of behaviour towards others;
• Changes in personal habits and appearance, usually for the worse;
•
Lossof appetite;
•
Inappropriate behaviour, for example wearing long sleeved shirts in very hot weather to
conceal the needle marks and sunglasses to conceal large or small pupils;
•
Needle punctures and bruises on the skin of the arms and thighs or septic spots which are
the result of using unsterile needles;
• Jaundice (hepatitis) through the use of improperly sterilised syringes and needles.
If you have suspicions, make discreet enquiries of other crew members. These may reveal
alterations in behaviour patterns in the patient. There may be rumours of drug problems on
board.
Do not accept the patient's word that he is not a drug user as lying, cheating and
concealment are all part of the picture.
Treatment
Remove any drugs from the patient and try to identify them and their source.
Always obtain RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
If the patient is unconscious, give the appropriate treatment. If the symptoms are those of
mental disturbance, read page 158.
NOTE: Police and Customs take a very strong interest in certain drugs and how they come to
be on your ship. Any confiscated drug should be clearly labelled and locked away in a secure
place and entered in the Official Logbook.
If you are returning to the UK the presence of prohibited drugs on board should be reported
to HM Customs who will take appropriate action.
In other countries enquiries as to the proper procedure should be made through the ship's
agents.
Hay fever
This condition is caused by an allergy to grass or other pollen. Normally the disease is at its worst
during late spring and early summer when the pollen count is at its highest. Seafarers who
suffer from hay fever ohen find that they are free from symptoms while at sea.
The symptoms of hay fever are a running nose associated with itchy eyes, which may become
red both from itchiness and from being rubbed. The patient usually knows that he suffers from
hay fever.
Specific treatment
The basic treatment is that for lesser allergic reactions. Give the patient anti-histamine until
away from the coast. The dose should be adjusted to the degree of allergic reaction and to the
side effects of dizziness or drowsiness which may occur.
NOTE: Warn the patient that he may become dizzy or drowsy. He should not keep watch or
work with machinery until the effect ofthe treatment is known with certainty. Also tell him that
alcohol will increase the side effects and should not be taken during the period of treatment.
High temperature - hyperpyrexia
See also heat illness and prickly heat.
Hyperpyrexia is the word used to describe too high a body temperature, i.e. one of 40°C or
higher. Such temperatures can be dangerous to the survival of the individual and require
careful management and nursing. The three main reasons for hyperpyrexia are heat illness,
infections which cause fever, and damage to the part of the brain which controls body
temperature.
Chapter 7 OTHERDISEASES
AND MEDICALPROBLEMS
Treatment
Any person who has a temperature of 400( or more must be cooled rapidly until the body
temperature is below 39°C.Tepid sponging (described below) is usually the easiest method. In
addition, ice packs or cold wet compresses may be applied to the forehead, armpits and groin
and iced drinks given. The air conditioning should be altered and a fan should be used to
increase air movement and evaporation from the skin.
If the brain centre which controls body temperature is damaged, heat regulation may be
upset for many days. Patients thus affected sometimes need to be surrounded by ice packs or to
have frequently changed cold water bottles placed around them. Read the section on fluid
balance and on giving fluids to replace lossof salt.
Tepid sponging
If possible get the patient into a bath or under a shower where the water is below normal body
temperature. Otherwise, lie the patient down and obt<!in the equipment required for bed
bathing. The temperature ofthe water in the wash bowl should be noticeably lower than 37°C.
Then proceed asfollows:
• Take the patient's temperature by rectum and record it.
•
Placea sponge wrung out in tepid or cold water in each armpit and another on the
forehead. If ice is available put ice bags in the armpits and on the groins. With the patient
naked, sponge him allover, using long strokes, with tepid or cold water. It isthe
evaporation ofthis water which produces most of the cooling.
• The water which you use for tepid sponging will tend to warm up from the heat of the
person being sponged so make sure that it remains noticeably cooler than normal body
temperature, 37°C.
•
Have a fan blowing over the patient (take care not to touch the fan with wet hands).
• (heck the patient's temperature frequently asyou cool him. Becausethis treatment causes
rapid cooling of only parts of the body, it is important that the thermometer remains in
position for four minutes so that the temperature recorded isthat of the body as a whole.
• After tepid sponging, when the person's temperature is down to at least 39°( the skin may
be dried and powdered with talc.
• If the patient complains of cold and starts to shiver and his temperature has fallen
sufficiently, cover him with a thin sheet.
• As the temperature may well rise again, check the
temperature by mouth every 30 minutes with another
thermometer until it has been below 39°( for at least an
hour; thereafter check the temperature hourly until the
fever has disappeared.
Lymphatic inflammation
(Lymphangitis)
Lymph is a virtually colourless fluid which circulates in a
system of hair-thin tubes called lymph vessels. At certain
places in the body the lymph vessels drain into lymphatic
glands or nodes (Figure 7.11). They are an important barrier
to the spread of infection in the body. The glands act astraps
for bacteria and other tiny particles and, hence, may become
enlarged and tender when the patient is suffering from an
infection.
When the lymphatic system is infected,
lymphangitis and lymphadenitis
(see below) appear.
Generalised enlargement of the lymph glands is a
characteristic of glandular fever, but may be due to blood
cancer (Leukaemia ).
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THE SHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Lymphangitis
Lymphangitis is recognised by the
presence of a red line (the course
of the lymph vessel) on the skin
spreading from an infected area
such as a small boil on the wrist or
from an invisible infected prick on
the finger. The red line will tend to
travel towards the nearest lymph
node (gland). In the example of a
small boil at the wrist, the line will
extend to the gland at the inner
side of the elbow and maybe to
the glands under the armpit.
General treatment
Check the patient's temperature,
pulse and respiration, and examine
the related lymph nodes to seeif they
are tender or enlarged (Figure 7.12).
Figure 7.12 Lymphangitis, due to a septic finger - usually
only one pathway will be so inflamed that it is visible on the
skin.
Specific treatment
If the condition is lymphangitis without a raised temperature and without lymphadenitis (see
below), give the standard antibiotic treatment. If the temperature is raised, or if lymphadenitis
is also present, or if the patient feels really unwell, give patients not allergic to penicillin one
dose of benzyl penicillin 600 mg intramuscularly in addition to oral antibiotic treatment. If the
condition does not begin to respond to the treatment after 2 days get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
Lymphadenitis
Lymphadenitis is an inflammation of the lymph nodes. It follows infection elsewhere in the
body (see lymphangitis above). It should not be confused with glandular fever.
Lymph node inflammation usually occurs a day or two after the primary infection. Ifthe node
suddenly becomes tender and swollen, a rapid spread of infection is indicated. Further effects
are a rise in body temperature and the patient feeling ill.
General treatment
Search parts ofthe body adjacent to the glands for the source of infection. The following
may be of help.
table
Location of Lymph Nodes Area to be Searched for Infection
Neck
Scalp, ear, face, forehead.
Shoulder, neck, mouth, teeth, throat, face, scalp.
Below collar bone
Chest, shoulder
Armpit
Hand, arm, shoulder
Groin
Foot, leg, thigh, genitals, anus, buttock.
Even if you are treating the patient for an infection in one of the areas covered by the inflamed
node you should check the other areas as well.
Chapter 7 OTHERDISEASES
AND MEDICAL PROBLEMS
Specific treatment
If the patient seems basically well, has no raised temperature,
and the cause of the
inflammation is not particularly significant, e.g. a small boil which has already discharged, no
antibiotic treatment should be given. Otherwise the treatment is that given for lymphangitis.
If the lymphadenitis derives from genital ulcers see Chapter 6.
Oedema (Fluid retention)
Oedema is the name given to the presence of an abnormal collection of fluid in the tissues
under the skin. It is not a disease in itself but a sign that there is some underlying condition
which causes the fluid to gather.
Its presence can be confirmed by gently pressing the tip of one finger on to the affected part
for ten seconds. When the finger is taken away, a dent or pit will be seen in the skin.
Generalised
oedema
Generalised oedema occurs in chronic heart failure when the heart's efficiency as a pump is
grossly impaired. This condition is not often found on board ships. It can also be found in
long-standing disease of certain structures within the kidney. This condition is extremely rare at
sea and is beyond the scope of this book.
In all cases of generalised oedema, test the urine for protein. If protein is present in the
specimen, give no treatment and get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
Oedema caused by heart disease
In heart disease, the swelling first appears in the feet and ankles and spreads up the legs. If the
patient is in bed, the oedema will collect under the skin overlying the lower part of the spine
and around the buttocks. The swelling is worse in the evenings or after exertion. In addition,
fluid will collect in the lungs causing a cough and breathlessness this is worse on lying down.
General treatment
The patient should be put to bed and a fluid balance chart started. Fluid intake should be
restricted.
Specific treatment
If fluid restriction is insufficient to cause a decrease in the amount of the oedema, give
frusemide 40 - 80 mg each morning until the patient can be put under medical care. For severe
breathlessness oxygen may be required. The patient should be warned that he will pass large
volumes of urine at frequent intervals beginning soon after the tablet has been taken and
provision should be made for this.
Localised oedema
This condition is much more common on board ships. It can be found:
•
in one or both legs where venous return is sluggish due to varicose veins.
•
in one leg where venous return is obstructed because of inflammation
•
at any site in association with boils, abscessesor carbuncles.
of varicose veins.
It can occur temporarily in the ankles and feet due to long standing in hot climates, sitting in
one place as in a lifeboat or in the female just before starting a period.
Your examination will reveal the cause of the oedema, and the appropriate sections of this
Guide should be consulted. Reliefwill be obtained by elevation ofthe affected part.
187
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THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Sea sickness
Sea sickness is largely attributable to the motion of ships. Persons unused to the sea are most
susceptible, but even experienced seafarers may be affected in rougher conditions.
The effects of sea sickness vary from a slight sense of nausea together with dryness of the
mouth and headache to repeated vomiting, giddiness and a greater or lesser degree of
prostration. In severe cases, the extent of vomiting can lead to loss of body fluid causing
dehydration and general collapse.
Prevention
Hyoscine hydrobromide 0.6 mg should be taken an hour before embarking or in anticipation of
need, followed by 0.3 mg every 8 hours thereafter for a maximum of 48 hours. Seasickness may
still develop, but the tablets are far more likely to be effective if taken before symptoms are
present. Drowsiness, dry mouth and blurred vision may arise as a side effect, and patients
should be warned accordingly.
Treatment
In mild cases, the condition will gradually wear off, perhaps during sleep, and no specific
treatment is necessary. More severe cases of prolonged vomiting may be treated by sucking
Prochlorperazine 3 mg buccal tablets. However, if this cannot be kept down an injection of
Promethazine 25 mg intramuscularly should be administered. Either the tablets or the injection
should normally make the patient drowsy and he should be encouraged to sleep to allow the
sea sickness to abate. On awakening the patient should drink plenty of fluids (oral rehydration
salts can be used especially if vomiting has been severe). In severe cases the dose of medicine
may have to be repeated. In any event, normal duties may be resumed 24 hours after the last
dose.
Infections of the fingers and hands
Fishermen are particularly prone to infections of the hands
and fingers because of their working environment and the
things that they are required to handle during their work.
For instance, they may be injured by fish spines and bones, by
broken ends of warps and many other things. Minor cuts and
grazes often go unnoticed at the time of injury. Bacteria are
carried into these wounds from fish slime and guts and also
from pieces of metal etc. Infection then develops with
inflammation of the infected area and the formation of pus.
Prevention
is always better than cure and it is
recommended
that
Chlorhexidine
Gluconate
20%
(HIBISCRUB) is used to wash hands and forearms after
handling fish of any kind. The Hibiscrub can be used as a soap
or in solution.
Hand anatomy is very complex but two features are
relevant to fishermen:
• The tissues of the tips of the fingers (the finger pulps) are
completely closed off from the tissues of the remainder of
the fingers. Because ofthis, infection and the formation
of pus in the finger tip causes a great deal of swelling and
pain. This situation is called a pulp space infection.
• The hand tendons (which move the fingers) are enclosed
either partially or completely in sheaths (Fig 8.1). A finger
infection may spread along the tendon sheath towards
the communal sheath in the palm. This is particularly
likely when the little finger or thumb is the infected part.
Infection ofthe palm sheath causes severe pain and
swelling of the hand. This is a palmar space infection.
Figure 8.1 Tendons of the hand;
the tendon sheath does not
cover all of the middle
three tendons.
All finger and hand
infections are very painful
and disabling. Some can
cause permanent
disability. They should be
treated aggressively if
they occur but it is
preferable to prevent
them. Finger and hand
infections can be avoided
by:
• Thorough washing of the hands at the end of every work
period, preferably with chlorhexidine gluconate 20%
(HIBISCRUB).
•
Prompt treatment and cleaning of all minor cuts,
scratches and abrasions.
• Aggressive early treatment including antibiotics if
throbbing pain or inflammation is noted anywhere in the
hands or fingers
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THE
SHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Specific hand and finger infections
Boils
Boils can occur on any part of the hands or fingers. They are often more painful than boils
elsewhere on the body because the skin on fishermen's hands is hard and thick and unable to
give. Boils therefore take a long time to come to a head and discharge.
To treat boils, a clean, dry dressing should be applied to the area. Antibiotics should be given
if there is any evidence of spreading infection (e.g. redness going up the arm)
Pulp space infections
These are usually caused by fish bones or spines or by fragments of wire. They cause severe
throbbing pain of the finger tip and require urgent treatment. The patient should be given
antibiotics and the pus must be released by incision using a scalpel. If possible the patient should
be landed, but if this is not possible, the finger should be numbed using local anaesthetic
(Lignocaine 1%) and the palmar surface of the finger incised down to bone in the line of the
finger. Puswill be released in this way. The finger should then be dressedand the patient landed.
Nail fold infections
These are also called whitlows. They are usually caused by minor scratches around the finger
nails. The skin around the nail becomes painful and swollen. As soon as the infection is
suspected it should be treated with oral antibiotics. If the infection comes to a head with pus
present, the finger should be numbed with local anaesthetic (Lignocaine 1%) and a small
incision should be made in the ballooned skin over the pus. The finger should then be dressed
and the patient landed.
Palmar space infections
These are infections of the deep structures of the hand and must be taken very seriously. They
are usually caused by an extension of a deep infection of a finger or of an infection of the
tendon sheath of the thumb or little finger. They can also be caused by a prick in the palm or
a stab wound from a knife in the palm. The most common cause is a finger infection which has
been ignored.
The whole hand becomes swollen, there is severe throbbing pain and this is made worse by
any movement of the fingers. The patient feels generally unwell, with sweating, shivering,
sickness and raised body temperature all being possible. Treatment is urgent to prevent
permanent disability. The patient must be put to bed with the hand elevated and
arrangements must be made to land the patient as soon as possible. Antibiotics
must be given, ideally by injection, until the patient is landed. If in doubt, seek
RADIO MEDICALADVICE.
Lymphangitis
This is infection and inflammation of
the lymph channels and commonly
occurs as a result of finger and hand
infections.
It is seen as red lines
spreading up the arms. See Figure 8.2
for the pathways along which infection
passes up the arms. As well as fiery red
lines up the arms the lymph glands at the
elbow and in the armpits may become swollen and
painful. If lymphangitis appears, there is infection
in the hand until proven otherwise and the patient
should be given antibiotics even if there is no
obvious source of the infection.
Chapter 8 DISEASES
OF FISHERMEN
Haddock Rash
This in an infection of the clefts between the fingers that occurs following gutting white fish,
particularly haddock. Untreated it can caused redness, pain and swelling for several weeks. It
usually responds rapidly to antibiotics, given for five days.
Cuts to the hands (including tendon injuries)
All cuts to the hands should be taken seriously due partly to the high risk of infection from even
minor wounds (see above).
All cuts to the hands and fingers should also raise the possibility of injury to the tendons or
nerves. 1ft he patient is unable to move his fingers normally himself or has reduced sensation in
a finger, there is possible tendon or nerve damage and the patient needs to be landed for
possible surgery.
Salt water boils
These are also called pips or pigeons. They occur because the cuffs of clothing worn by
fishermen rub the sand and grit brought up in nets into the skin ofthe wrists and the back of the
hands causing tiny abrasions. The cuffs are usually covered with fish slime from sorting and
gutting operations and bacteria in the slime infect the abrasions. Sores appear as small
irritating spots which soon become tiny painful septic blisters. Some become large boils and the
whole of the wrist and back of the hand may become inflamed, hard and painful.
The sores can be prevented by thoroughly washing the hands and wrists after coming off
watch and by frequently scrubbing the cuffs of waterproof coats with soap and fresh water.
When sleeve cuffs become cracked and worn, the garment should be replaced.
Once the sores occur, they should be bathed frequently in warm water and covered with a
dry dressing. If boils develop the patient should be given antibiotics.
Jumbo Wrist
The medical term for this condition is Fishermen's tenosynovitis of the wrist. It occurs because
prolonged repetitive movements of the wrist can cause inflammation of the sheaths through
which the tendons around the wrist move. It is fairly common when fishermen are involved in
prolonged gutting or when they return to sea after a long period ashore. Wrist movement (as
occurs in gutting) causes localised pain and a sensation offine grating. This grating (known also
as crepitus) can be felt by placing the palm of the examiner's hand lightly over the painful place
and asking the patient to carry out the painful movements.
The condition can be treated with anti-inflammatory
drugs (e.g. Diclofenac or Ibuprofen)
but often fails to settle whilst the fisherman continues to work. The most effective treatment is
complete rest for a period of 10 -14 days, preferably with the wrist supported in a splint.
Tit juice conjuctivitis (fishermen's conjuctivitis)
This is an acute inflammation ofthe conjuctiva (the thin lining membrane over the eyes) due to
contact with the juice of 'duffs' or 'tits'. These are marine growths which look like suet
dumplings with finger-like growths protruding from them. When they are trawled up they may
burst in the cod end of the net and the juice, which contains tiny sharp silicon particles, may be
squirted into the eyes of the fisherman. It is very irritant to the eyes, causing redness and
inflammation and eventually blistering. The eyes are very painful and this is made worse by
exposure to light. If untreated the eyes may close due to swelling.
The treatment is to wash out the eyes with large amounts of clean, fresh water. Relief from
the pain can be obtained by instilling eye drops (Betamethasone and Neomycin eye drops four
times daily). The eyes must be examined by a doctor on return to port.
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THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Fisherysipeloid (fish poisoning)
This arisesfrom minor pricks or scratches caused by the bones or fins of fish. Particles of fish or
infected fish slime are carried into the wounds. Inflammation starts as a small red area, the
margins of which become swollen and purple. The inflammation and discoloration spread
rapidly up the arms. The margin remains purple and raised whilst the centre appears only
mildly inflamed. The whole area is swollen and tender and may itch or burn. Lymphangitis (see
above) may occur.
The disease can be prevented by thorough washing with soap and hot water at the end of
every watch. When the disease is diagnosed, treatment should be started with antibiotics.
Dogger Bank Itch (curly weed rash)
This is an allergic skin condition caused by contact with a seaweed-like plant, known to
fishermen ascurly weed, which grows in the shallow waters of the North Sea,especially around
the Dogger Bank area. It is also found around Scotland, Norway and Greenland. Not all
fishermen in contact with curly weed develop the rash or become sensitised. Sensitisation can
be very gradual but once established it requires only contact with nets used in the area to
precipitate an attack.
The rash usually appears asa dermatitis on the backsof the hands, wrists and forearms. Once
the allergy is established further contact causes the rash to spread to the face and eyes and
ultimately to the whole body. The affected parts are itchy, red and swollen. Weeping and
drying can cause painful cracksto appear in the skin. When the face and eyesare affected there
is marked swelling around the eyes.
The only effective treatment is to remove the patient from all further contact with curly
weed. He will need to change to deep water ships. The rash usually clears up on going ashore
but in established casesdrug treatment may be required. The patient is given antihistamines.
These drugs cause sleepiness; the patient must not be allowed to operate machinery whilst on
these drugs. Steroid ointment (Hydrocortsone 1% cream) should be applied to the affected
parts. Inflammation of the eyes can be treated with eye drops (Betamethasone and Neomycin
eyedrops) and the patient should be landed.
Removing a fish hook
Before attempting to remove the hook, the surrounding
area needs to be numbed using an injection of local
anaesthetic (Lignocaine 1%). Once the area is numb (usually
the finger) the hook and the area of skin around it should be
thoroughly cleaned with antiseptic solution.
Feel for the position of the barb and make sure that the
area is numb, using some more local anaesthetic if necessary.
Grasp the shank of the hook firmly in a pair of pliers.
Following the curve of the hook, push the barb through the
skin until the barb and part of the hook is visible. Clip off the
barb and withdraw the hook, again following the curve of
the hook.
The patient should be given antibiotics due to the high
risk of infection.
Figure 8.3 Removalof fish hook.
The period ~nd period problems
(menstruation)
A woman's period (or menstrual cycle)starts at puberty (11-16
years old) and should occur regularly until the menopause
(45-55 years old). The cycle is approximately 28 days and the
bleeding last 3-4 days. Individuals will vary widely. Severe
generalised illness, severe weight loss, anorexia nervosa,
severe stress may all interfere with the cycle, but the most
common cause for a missed period is pregnancy.
The period and its
problems (Menstruation)
Pregnancy
Bleeding during
pregnancy or suspected
pregnancy
Miscarriage
Ectopic pregnancy
Other vaginal bleeding
Vaginaldischarge
External genital itching
Contraception
Figure 9.1 Femalesexual
organs
Painful periods
Many women experience pain with periods. This can range
from mild discomfort and a feeling of heaviness, to severe
cramping pains, backaches, nausea and even vomiting. It is
very individualistic. Paracetamol can be used for the pain
and simple measures such as rest, a hot bath or hot water
bottle over the lower abdomen all help.
Pre-menstrual tension
The changes in hormones prior to the period can make
women
more
emotionally
changeable
and
alter
concentration. However the extremes of the condition are
extremely rare.
Pregnancy
As already stated the commonest cause of a missed period
in healthy women is pregnancy, especially if the woman has
had unprotected sex in the last 2-3 weeks.
Suspect
pregnancy if the period is overdue by 2 weeks, the woman is
experiencing 'morning sickness' i.e. nausea and vomiting on
waking which settles asthe day progresses, pigmentation of
the nipples, and swelling of the breasts. There is usually no
sign of abdominal swelling until 16 weeks. A pregnancy test
should be sought as soon as possible.
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THE SHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Bleeding during pregnancy or suspected pregnancy
This must always be taken seriously. During the first 6 months it can mean a threatened or
inevitable miscarriage. These are most common at 12 weeks. After 6 months it can signify
labour or a problem with the placenta. The other important cause is an ectopic pregnancy. See
below.
Miscarriage
Threatened miscarriage
There is some vaginal bleeding and there may be some pain (similar to period pain). This should
last no longer than 1-2 days. The woman must have bed rest until the bleeding stops and
should do no strenuous activity after that until she has seen a doctor for a check-up.
Inevitable miscarriage
More often a threatened miscarriage progresses to an inevitable miscarriage. The bleeding
continues, increases and often clots of blood are passed. The pain isworse. The woman must be
put to bed, have regular observations performed and all shed blood must be examined for
evidence of clots and solid material, which indicate that she has miscarried the foetus. Seek
RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
If bleeding continues, the pulse rises or she develops a temperature, it can indicate an
incomplete miscarriage, i.e. some foetal material still remains inside the womb. Discuss this
with your radio medical advisor. She may need Ergometrine 500 mg intramuscularly for
continued bleeding and raised pulse rate. She may require antibiotics if she has a raised pulse
rate and temperature.
Bleeding after 6 months
This is likely to be the onset of labour, (see chapter 10) or an abnormal position of the placenta
causing bleeding. The woman should be put to bed with regular observations until she can be
landed. Seek RADIO MEDICALADVICE.
Ectopic pregnancy
This occurs when the fertilised egg starts developing outside of the womb, in the Fallopian
tubes (the tubes that connect the ovaries to the womb). It is rare. It usually occurs around the
6th week of pregnancy (missed 1 period), but can occur up to the 10th week.
The egg as it grows splits the tube and this can cause severe pain and some bleeding. The
sensation of pain is in the lower abdomen, centrally or either side. The blood is often dark in
colour. When the tube splits, it can damaged an artery and cause severe bleeding internally,
causing very severe abdominal pain and collapse due to shock.
As a rule ofthumb - a little pain and lots of blood indicates a miscarriage, a lot of pain and a
little blood indicates an ectopic pregnancy. If you suspect an ectopic pregnancy seek RADIO
MEDICAL ADVICE at once.
Other vaginal bleeding
This can occur in women after the menopause or in women of childbearing years who are not
pregnant and outside of their usual period. If the bleeding is a small amount, she should rest
until it stops, and seek medical advice at the next port. If it is a larger amount and continuous,
she should be put to bed and observed regularly. If she has significant abdominal pain give
intramuscular Morphine 10 to 15 mg. Get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
Vaginal discharge
This is usually due to an infection within the vagina, uterus (womb) or Fallopian tubes. It may be
associated with lower abdominal pain (Pelvic inflammatory disease). It can be related to a
sexually transmitted disease.
Chapter 9 FEMALEDISORDERS
AND PREGNANCY
If the discharge is offensive in smell give the antibiotic Metronidazole 400 mg three times a
day for 7 days.
Ifthe discharge iswhite, with the texture of cream cheese, i.e. Thrush., instruct the woman to
use a miconazole pessary if available (instructions will be on the packet).
Alcohol must not be drunk whilst taking metronidazole. The patient should refrain from
sexual activity, whilst under treatment. Sheshould see a doctor at the next port.
External genital itching. {Puritus vulvae}
A minor degree of itching may occur with menstruation, pregnancy or the menopause. At
other times, it can be persistent and troubling. It is usually worse at night, when the patient is
warm in bed. If a vaginal discharge is present, treat as above. Ask about any other features
such as general health, rash, swelling or redness. Consider problems such as crab lice, scabies,
diabetes and threadworm.
Any examination should be restricted to visual only and must be done in the presence of a
chaperone, preferably female, to protect yourself aswell asthe woman. The urine must also be
examined for sugar (diabetes) and the faeces for threadworms.
Contraception
There are various methods of contraception,
avoid pregnancy is abstinence.
none are infallible.
The only absolute way to
The Barrier method - Condom, Cap or Femidom
These all prevent sperm reaching the egg. Reliability depends on correct usage. The condom is
also useful in preventing sexually transmitted diseases.
The Contraceptive pill
There are many different formulations of pills, but they all work by altering the hormonal
balance of the woman's body so that eggs are not released by the ovaries. The pills need to be
taken every day as denoted on the packets, at a regular time. For the first month of taking the
pill an additional method should also be used, i.e. one of the barrier methods. If a pill is
forgotten, as long as it is taken within 12 hours of its usual time, there should be no
consequence. If it has been forgotten for a longer period, the woman should continue to take
the pills as normal but use additional methods of contraception i.e. a barrier method, for
2 weeks after the missed pill. Similarly if there has been any episodes of sickness,diarrhoea, or
a course of antibiotics, thewoman should use an additional method for 2 weeks, asall these can
interfere with the absorption of the pill into the bloodstream.
Women should have regular monthly bleeds on the pill, and some may experience a small
amount of bleeding mid-cycle. This is nothing to worry about.
The coil
This is a small metallic or plastic coil placed inside the uterus, which prevents the egg finding a
place to rest. It can cause lower abdominal pain, vaginal bleeding and infection. The woman
will need to consult her doctor about suitability or if problems arise.
Post coital contraception 'The morning after pill'
If a woman is able to consult a doctor within 72 hours of unprotected sexual intercourse, a
combination of pills can be prescribed which act asa contraceptive. They are not 100% effective
and are an emergency measure, not a regular contraceptive method.
195
Introd uction
If a pregnant woman goes into labour whilst at sea,try to get
her ashore immediately. If this is not possible, try to get a
doctor or midwife to her. If this is impossible, do not panic.
The mother does all the work in delivering the baby and
mainly needscalm, sensibleencouragement.
Most births occur between 38 to 40 weeks after the
woman's last period. If earlier than 36 weeks, the baby will be
premature. The earlier the delivery, the more the risk of
complications and death ofthe baby.
On average, for a first child, labour takes about 16 hours.
Women who have had children before can have a much
shorter labour, and most will deliver within 12 hours. There
are, however, wide variations.
Stages of labour
There are 3 stages of labour
Stage 1.This stage involves the dilation of the cervix (neck of
the womb), so that the baby can pass out of the uterus
(womb). See Figure 10.1. It is difficult to say when labour
commences exactly. The uterus will start contracting in a
co-ordinated, regular pattern with some pains. A discharge
of mucus mixed with blood may occur (the show). In the early
part, the uterine contractions are relatively painless
and occur at 5-10 minute intervals. The membranes, which
hold the fluid around the baby in uterus, rupture and the
fluid flows out of the vagina. Usually about 250-500 mls. The
contractions will gradually get more frequent and stronger.
Stage 2. This stage involves the journey of the baby through
the now dilated cervix, down the vagina (the birth canal) and
into the outside world. The majority come head first. The
pains and contractions will be much stronger, accompanied
by a desire to push.
Stage 3. This stage involves the delivery of the placenta
(afterbirth).
Introduction
Stages of labour
Preparations
Onset of labour, Stage 1
The delivery, Stage 2
After delivery, Stage 3
Subsequent
management
Problems during the
birth
198
THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Preparations
Once it becomes apparent that the woman is in labour, get RADIO MEDICALADVICE.
You will need:
• A clean, warm, private room, with a bed ,adequate spaceto move around and preferably its
own toilet and bathroom.
• Clean linen and waterproof sheet to protect the mattress.
• Bed pan.
• 2 pieces of tape about 10 inches long.
• Surgical scissors.
• Sterile dressings.
• Sterile receptacle for the afterbirth, and plastic bag to store it.
• Warmed towels and linen to wrap the baby, and a nappy.
• Something to act asa cot.
• Sanitary towels.
• Clean night dress/shirt for mother.
•
Ergometrine 500 mg with needle and syringe.
Onset of labour, Stage 1
Once the contractions are coming regularly, every
10 minutes or so, the woman should be in the
room. Allow her to find her most comfortable
position, whether on the bed or wandering
around. She should be encouraged to empty
her bowels and bladder. She can have non-milky
fluids (no alcohol) to drink as she wishes, and
although traditionally eating is frowned on, if
labour is prolonged, light refreshments may help.
The pains of contractions are intense, however, do
not be tempted to give any drugs unless
specifically told to by a doctor. The woman will
need a lot of calm reassurance.
The birth, Stage 2 (see Figs 10.2 and 10.3)
Once the cervix is fully dilated the baby is pushed
down the birth canal by the contractions of the
uterus. These will become stronger, every 2-5
minutes, and last longer. The mother will have the
urge to push and should be encouraged to use her
abdominal musclesduring contractions. It is quite
common to hear strong language from the
mother. She should be encouraged to sit on the
bed propped up at about 45 degrees.
As the baby's head comes through the birth
canal it will start stretching the skin between the
vagina and the anus, by gently placing a hand
there during contractions you may help prevent
tearing of the skin, but not always. Do not press
on the baby's head. The top of the head appears
first and once all the head and face is visible,
Chapter 10 CHILDBIRTH
check for and clear any mucus (slime) from the nose and mouth. Also check
that the umbilical cord is not around the neck. If tightly round the neck it will
have to be clamped and cut now; if loose, it can be slipped overthe baby's head.
The head will now rotate and the shoulders deliver next. As soon asthese are
free the rest of the baby will come very easily. Lift gently, allowing fluids to
drain from the face, and check to seethat the baby takes a breath, if not try to
stimulate it by rubbing. If there is no response refer to 'Problems during
birth'.
The baby should be wrapped in the warmed towel immediately
to prevent heat loss. Once the cord has stopped pulsating it can
be cut. Tie a piece of tape tightly about 5 em from the baby's
abdomen and the other 2 em further along the cord
towards the mother. Cut between the two ties. If there is
bleeding from the baby's stump tie a further tie. (see fig.
10.4)
The baby will appear covered in blood, mucus and white
flaky material, do not be tempted to wash it. It must be
wrapped up warmly, the eyes, nose and mouth given a
sterile wipe, and then be given to mother for a cuddle.
To placenta
Drain baby's throat and nose. Hold carefully,
baby is covered in a slippery slime
Figure 10.3 Immediately after birth.
After delivery, Stage 3
Although the baby is now delivered, the placenta
(afterbirth) is still attached to the wall of the uterus. It
has to separate and then descend through the birth
canal. This usually takes about 15-20 minutes. The woman
experiences some more contraction pains, more blood
and the cut cord lengthens. Do not pull on the cord, the
placenta will come naturally. Once delivered, it looks
like a small fleshy pizza. It should be put in a bag and
stored in a freezer, laid flat until it can be
examined by a doctor.
Once the placenta is expelled, give the mother
the injection of intramuscular ergometrine. This
helps reduce further bleeding from the uterus. If
there is a lot of bleeding despite the injection,
treat asfor shock and get RADIO MEDICALADVICE.
Occasionally the placenta will not deliver. Get
RADIO MEDICALADVICE.
The vagina and skin around it should be checked
for tears. Some may need stitching, get RADIO
MEDICALADVICE.
To placenta
Figure 10.4 Tie and cut the
umbilical cord.
Subsequent management
Both mother and baby should be landed assoon as possible, and checked by a doctor.
The mother
After the birth, the mother needs to be able to wash, put on a clean night dress, and will need a
sanitary towel. She should rest for the first 24 hours, and then she can start gently moving
around.
Check her temperature daily, if it risesabove 38 degrees centigrade, she will need antibiotics,
either Ciprofloxacin 500 mg twice a day or Erythromycin 500 mg 3 times a day for 5 days.
She can eat normally and needs to drink plenty of fluids. She may initially find it painful to
urinate and open her bowels. This usually is overcome with encouragement. Trying to urinate
initially in a warm bath is often successful.After 3 days if she has not opened her bowels, a mild
laxative can be used.
199
200
THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
The baby
Once delivered, the cord having been cut and having had an initial cuddle with mother, the
baby needs to be gently dried. A sterile dressing must be placed over the umbilical cord stump,
a nappy put on and baby warmly wrapped again.
The mother should then have the baby back and attempt to breast feed using both breasts.
Initially the breasts give a yellowish fluid, called colostrum, which changes to milk over 48
hours. This is normal. The baby should be encouraged to feed little and often, including during
the night. It is best to keep the baby in the same room asthe mother, so it can be fed on demand.
If there are any problems with feeding, get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
If well, the baby can be gently washed when practical, but keep the umbilical stump dry. The
dressing should be changed daily. The cord will shrivel and drop off in about 10 days.
Problems during birth
Different presentations
In some births, it is not the head that comes down the birth canal first, but the bottom. As soon
as this is apparent, Get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE. As soon as the legs and bottom are delivered,
do not try and pull the baby, the head is still the biggest part and providing the cord is not
tightly wrapped around the neck and it is still pulsating the baby will not suffocate. Wait until
the mother pushes the baby out.
Baby not breathing after delivery
This can be extremely distressing. Remove any blood or mucus from the mouth and nose. Rub
the baby vigorously to try and stimulate it. If no response, put your own mouth over the baby's
mouth and nose and gently blow air in, watching the chest to see if it rises, then allow the air to
escape. Ask someone else to do chest compressions over the sternum (breast bone), using two
fingers and pressing down no more than 2 em, at a rate of 100 per minute. Continue doing this
until the baby takes a breath or it becomes apparent that the baby is dead. Get RADIO MEDICAL
ADVICE.
Obvious deformity or death
If the baby is badly deformed or is still born (born dead), get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE. Serious
abnormalities can often be the cause of premature labour, which may have caused the
unexpected delivery.
Survivors should be brought on board asquickly as possible since
they may be exhausted, nearly drowned, and perhaps injured.
They may be in the last stages of exhaustion and totally unable
to help themselves. Even a short scramble up rope netting will
be beyond their capability and could endanger their life. They
will have to be assisted or carried. If possible they should be
lifted in a horizontal posture as this reduces the chances of a
sudden drop in blood pressure on removal from the water.
Hypothermia
Freezing c::oldinjury
(frostbite) .
Non-freezing cold injury
(immersion foot)
Contamination with oil
Hypothermia
Hypothermia isthe term given to the condition when deep body
temperature is lowered to less than 35°C. At and below this
temperature normal body function will be impaired. Loss of
life may occur when deep body temperature falls below 30°C.
Causes
The usual causes among seafarers are immersion in the sea, or
exposure to cold air while in a survival craft. In a cold
environment body heat production will automatically increase
in an effort to balance heat loss, but if the rate of heat loss
exceeds the rate of heat production then body temperature
must fall and hypothermia will result. The rate of heat loss is
many times greater in water than in air. The rate of heat losswill
vary depending on the difference in the temperature between
the body and the water. Hence in tropical water one may not die
of hypothermia for a considerable period of time, whereas in
colder water death from hypothermia can occur in lessthan an
hour. In addition, death by drowning is a frequent consequence
of weakness caused by hypothermia,
before death from
hypothermia alone would occur. Almost all seasin the world are
at a temperature which can be classed as a cold environment,
as heat loss will occur in water at temperatures below 35.5°C.
Diagnosis
Hypothermia should always be suspected in any individual
rescued at sea. The three broad categories of uncomplicated
hypothermia are illustrated in Figure 11.1
Dehydration and
malnutrition
Problems in the
lifeboat
202
THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
The use of a low reading rectal thermometer will be necessary in order to record deep body
temperature.
Note that the stage of torpor may terminate in a comatose state which is difficult to
distinguish from death. The casualty is unconscious, there are no reflexes and the pupils are
dilated. The respiratory rate is very slow with two or three movements a minute. The pulse is
imperceptible and heart sounds cannot be heard even with a stethoscope. The condition could
suggest death, but the usual criteria for death are not strictly applicable in the case of
hypothermia. Death by hypothermia is then defined as being the failure to revive the casualty
by re-warming.
Treatment
The treatment for hypothermia will of course depend on both the condition of the survivor
and the facilities available. Generally, survivors who are rational and capable of recounting
their experiences, although shivering dramatically, merely require removal of all wet clothes
and replacement with dry clothes or blankets. Hot sweet drinks and rest in a warm environment
not exceeding 22°C (normal room temperature) are also recommended. However, always bear
in mind that even conscious survivors can collapse and become unconscious shortly after rescue.
They should therefore be laid down and should not be left alone. NEVER GIVE ALCOHOL
In more serious cases, where the survivor is not shivering and is semi-conscious, unconsciousor
apparently dead, slow rewarming is essential. Never attempt rapid rewarming by immersion
in a hot bath except on medical advice. The following measures will be necessary to preserve
life:
•
On rescue always check the survivor's airway and breathing, and then listen for heart
sounds. If the survivor is not breathing, ensure the airway is clear and start artificial
respiration immediately (mouth to mouth or mouth to nose). Attempts at
resuscitation should be continued until medical advice can be obtained, or for at least
30 minutes.
•
Prevent further heat loss due to evaporation
•
Do not massage the limbs.
or exposure to the wind.
• Avoid all unnecessary handling, even the removal of wet clothing.
then be as gentle as possible.
If handling is necessary
•
Enclose the survivor in a plastic bag or blankets or preferably both. It is important that the
head, but not the face, is well covered. Place in a warm area with a temperature not
exceeding 22°C. Never attempt to give any fluids by mouth to an unconscious casualty.
When consciousness is regained never give alcohol. If the survivor is breathing but
unconscious, lay him in the unconscious position. When consciousness has been fully
regained warm sweet drinks may be given.
•
Conscious survivors suffering from hypothermia
possible, in a slightly head-down attitude.
•
In survival craft, seriously affected survivors should be placed in close proximity to warmer
occupants, to permit transfer of body heat.
should be laid on their side and, whenever
• When spare clothing or blankets or survival bags are available they should be given to those
most affected. Huddling together under blankets or any other covering will conserve heat
and permit mutual re-warming.
Chapter 11 SURVIVORS
Freezing cold injury - frostbite
Frostbite is the term given to the condition when tissue fluids freeze in localised areas of the
body; the hands, face and feet are particularly susceptible.
Cause
Exposure, particularly of bare skin to sub-zero temperatures, especially when combined with
air movement. Look-outs in life rafts or survivors in open boats are particularly prone to this
injury. Accordingly, consideration should be given to the length of watch periods and watch
keepers should be supplied with any spare clothing.
Diagnosis
The signs are:
•
•
extreme waxy pallor of the skin;
initial local tingling and stiffness when it is difficult to wrinkle the face or wiggle affected
toes or fingers;
• complete absence of sensation in the area affected; and
•
local hardness due to freezing of the flesh.
The depth oftissue damage can be graded, like burns, into 1st degree (frost nip), 2nd degree,
3rd degree and 4th degree.
Prevention
If bare skin has to be exposed to the elements, the periods of exposure should be kept to a
minimum and freezing winds particularly avoided. Moderate exercise and massage at an early
stage will help to prevent the onset of cold injury. Do not smoke; smoking reduces the blood
supply to the hands and feet.
Treatment
On detection of the above signs, immediate steps should be taken to re-warm the frozen parts
before permanent damage occurs. Get out ofthe wind. Re-warm the frozen area by applying it to
a warmer part ofthe body, e.g. hands under armpits, cupped hand over cheek, nose, ear, etc. Once
freezing has occurred do not rub or massage affected areas. When treatment has been ineffective
the skin dies and becomes black. If this occurs dry dressings should be applied to the affected part.
Non-freezing cold injury -Immersion foot
This isa term given to the condition when the temperature of local tissues in the limbs (usually the
feet) remains sub-normal but above freezing for a prolonged period. It is commonly encountered
by shipwreck survivors who have been adrift and cold for several days. Usually the feet have been
wet and immobile, but this injury can occur in dry conditions. Other contributory factors are tight
footwear and sitting still with the feet down for prolonged periods.
Diagnosis
Feet become white, numb, cold and frequently are slightly swollen. When returned to the
warmth, the feet become hot, red, swollen and excruciatingly painful.
Prevention
Every effort should be made by survivors to keep their feet warm and dry. Shoe laces should be
loosened; the feet should be raised and toe and ankle exercises encouraged several times a day.
When possible, shoes should be removed and feet kept warm by placing them under the
armpits, but outside the clothing, of another occupant of the life-raft or boat. Alternatively,
unwanted spare clothing may be wrapped round the feet to keep them warm. Smoking should
be discouraged.
Treatment
After rescue every effort should be made to avoid rapid re-warming of the affected limbs. Care
should be taken to avoid damaging the skin or breaking blisters. Do not massage affected limbs.
203
204
THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Contamination with oil
Do not clean oil off the skin (except around the mouth and eyes) until the person is warm and
comfortable. Survivors who have recovered from hypothermia can be taken to a warm shower
or bathroom and should have all their clothes taken off. Then their skin should be wiped with
soft cloth and strong paper towels to remove as much of the oil as possible. Injured or burned
areas should be wiped with care or not at all. If a strong warm shower is available, mechanical
removal of much of the oil can be accomplished by the water jet effect. Hair shampoo will
remove oil from the hair and can be used to help remove oil from the body. Then, with time,
patience, help, and wiping, and using good toilet soap or shower gel to clean the skin, the rest
ofthe oil can be washed away. Solvents, scouring compounds, kerosene, and other cleaners not
designed for skin cleaning must not be used. It is, however, all right to use jellied cleansing
agents that are designed for skin cleaning.
Dehydration and malnutrition
Survivors who have been adrift for several days may be suffering from dehydration. If they have
been adrift for several weeks malnutrition may also be a problem. Caution should be exercised
in trying to reverse either dehydration or malnutrition
rapidly. Give sweetened fluids in
quantities which will produce a urinary output of one litre per day initially. In temperate
climatic conditions (or air-conditioned accommodation) this will usually mean an input of
about 21itres a day.lfthe weather is warm and the skin is moist or sweaty, higher intakes may be
permitted. Initially, a diet of nourishing liquids (sugar and water or milk or soup) will satisfy
nutritional requirements and should be given for the first two days. Then small amounts of
normal food can be given additionally. RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE should be sought. This diet
should continue until either the survivor can be transferred to care ashore or medical assistance
is given on board.
Problems in the lifeboat
Vomiting
This may be due to the unusual motion ofthe small craft (sea-sickness is inevitable in a life raft),
orto swallowing fuel oil or sea water. It is unlikely to continue very long. After severe vomiting
the patient should lie down and be kept warm with coats or blankets. Seasickness tablets may
give relief if taken well before the onset of vomiting. They should be issued at the earliest
opportunity after entering a life raft.
Constipation
Action ofthe bowels is not expected when taking little or no food. No treatment
this condition - in fact laxatives will do harm.
is needed for
Difficulty in urination
There may be some difficulty in passing urine i:Jndthe bladder may feel uncomfortably full. In
any case, not much water will be passed when the drinking ration is small. The urine may appear
dark in colour and thick. This is to be expected and need not cause alarm.
Swollen legs
Swelling of the legs is a common occurrence in the boat and continues for a few days after
rescue. The condition subsides without treatment and, by itself, is a matter of no importance
but can be partially relieved by the exercises recommended for immersion foot.
Care of the dying
There is no stage when nothing more can be done to help a
patient. We may be unable to prevent the person from dying,
but there remains the task of ensuring that the patient is
protected from unnecessary suffering and pain, that he has
people around to care for him, and that his dignity as a
human being is preserved and respected. If the patient is
obviously dying and you believe that death is inevitable, you
should make sure that the person remains tranquil in mind
and in body during the period of dying. Comfort,
companionship, compassion, and the complete relief both of
mental and physical suffering, should be the aims. If slight
pain is present, it must be relieved by giving simple
painkillers. If the patient is suffering from severe pain then
morphine is appropriate. Morphine has the added benefit of
relieving anxiety. In the event of mental distress, confusion,
or behavioural problems consider sedation or tranquillisers.
Get RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE.
Signs of death
Never consider anyone to be dead until you and others agree
that:
•
breathing has stopped. Listen with your ear right over the
nose and mouth. You should feel no air coming out and
should see no chest and abdominal movement. A mirror
held in front of the nose and mouth will be misted by the
moisture in the exhaled breath in life, but no misting will
occur in death.
• the heart has stopped. No pulse will be felt and no heart
sounds will be heard. Put your ear on the left side of the
chest near the nipple and listen carefully. If you are not
sure what to listen for, listen to the left chest of a living
person first. To test that the circulation has stopped, tie a
piece of string tightly around a finger. In life the finger
becomes bluish, but in death it remains white. Slight
pressure on the finger nail or lip in life will cause the area
to become pale and when the pressure is released the
colour is regained. In death, this will not occur.
• the person looks dead. The eyes become dull and the skin
pale. The pupils are large and shining a bright light into
the eyes does not make the pupils get smaller.
While none of the signs described above are themselves
infallible, taken together there is usually little difficulty in
coming to a decision.
Mistaken death - a warning
A person who has taken large doses of certain drugs, usually
sedatives or tranquillisers,
or who is suffering from
hypothermia may look dead, but may still be alive. Mistakes
have been made. Check carefully for shallow breathing, for a
pulse, for heart sounds, as described above. If you are aware
of the possibilities for error you are less likely to make a
mistake. The circumstances surrounding the death may help
you to decide whether drug overdose or hypothermia may
be possibilities.
Care of the dying
Signsof death
Causeofdeath
Procedure after death
Disposal of the body
206
THE SHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Cause of death
It is important to try to establish the reasons for death. Causes of death can be ascribed to two
main groups:
•
natural causes such as illnesses;
•
injuries, which may be accidental or non-accidental.
If the person has been ill on board, records of the nature and progress of illness and of the
treatment given will have been made. These records should be carefully preserved in case any
further enquiries are necessary. Similarly, in case of injuries, the circumstances of the incident
which led to injury or injuries should be investigated and recorded. The notes made of the
investigations, together with the medical records, should be carefully preserved. It must always
be remembered that medico-legal enquiries will subsequently be necessary even when there
are, at the time, no apparent criminal or suspicious circumstances surrounding a death. If the
circumstances of death are unusual, sudden or unknown, or if there is any suspicion of criminal
intent. there must be a post-mortem examination by a pathologist.
Procedure after death
It is usually possible to retain the body until it can be examined by a pathologist at a port. Every
effort must be made to retain and preserve the body until the next port of call can be reached.
It is vital that as much evidence of what happened is gathered and preserved:
•
use a camera to take photographs which might illustrate how the death occurred, this will
be helpful in any investigation.
•
Clothing. Strip the body of all clothing, if possible without tearing or cutting it. Make a
brief description of each article and note any initials or names on the garments. Any papers,
wallet, money or other articles should be noted on the list. Any articles which are wet
should be dried, but not laundered, and should then be put into plastic bag's, sealed,
labelled, and kept in a safe place for handing over to the British Consul, police or other
authorities at the next port. When handing over clothing and other articles, check each
item against the list and get a receipt from the person to whom they are delivered. Any
other possessions of the deceased should be treated similarly. Ifthere is going to be little
delay before reaching port, leave everything undisturbed.
• examine the body. If it is absolutely essential to bury the body before it is examined by a
pathologist examine the body carefully (photographs are very helpful) and record the
following data:
•
race;
• skin colour;
•
approximate age;
•
height - straighten out the body with the legs fully extended. Make two marks on the deck,
one in line with the heels, the other in line with the top ofthe head. Measure and record
the distance between the lines;
•
development
•
inspect the head and face - record the length and colour of the hair; note the eyebrows and
describe facial hair. The complexion should be described (for example, sunburned; pale;
florid; sallow). Record the colour of the eyes and the shape of the nose. Open mouth and
examine the teeth, noting whether they are sound, decayed, or missing. Dentures should
be removed, cleaned and placed with the other articles kept for future examination;
•
inspect the rest ofthe body - record all birthmarks, moles, scars, or deformities from
injuries. Note the exact position of all scars and describe their length and width. A diagram
will help. Note whether circumcised or not. Vaccination scars should be noted. Tattoos
of the body - note whether fat, thin, wasted, muscular etc.;
Chapter 12 THEDYINGAND THE DEAD
should be described and any words or letters noted. Record the size, position, general
appearance, and colour of such tattoos. Wounds and bruises should be noted. You should
try to decide whether they could explain the death. Note the exact position, depth and
dimensions of all wounds. Describe the character of the wounds - clean cuts as from a knife,
or ragged tears, or bullet wounds. Note any skin blackening or singeing of clothing around
the entrance bullet wound. Look for an exit wound where the bu Ilet left the body - this is
always bigger than the entry wound. Feel under the skin for a bullet which may be lodged
there and note the position. Look carefully for signs of bruising round wounds or if there is
any escape of blood from the wound as shown by blood clots, blood staining of the
surrounding skin, by blood on the clothing or by blood in the area where the body was
found. This will help to distinguish injuries caused during life (which bleed) from those
caused after death (which do not bleed). Note also any broken bones. External signs of
disease such as boils, ulcers, varicose veins, or skin rashes, should be recorded .
•
records. Remember to have all your observational
appropriate entries in the official log book.
notes countersigned,
and to make all
Disposal of the body
Retention for post-mortem examination
Whenever possible a body should be retained for post-mortem examination or for burial ashore.
For the sake of the deceased person's relatives and to preserve the body in the best possible
condition, if there is going to be any delay in reaching port, thoroughly wash and dry the body all
over. Comb out and part the hair and give attention to finger nails. Straighten the arms and legs
and interlock the fingers over the thighs. Tie the ankles together to keep the feet perpendicular.
Empty the bladder by firm pressure over the lower abdomen. The body should then be put into a
body bag and kept in a refrigerator or cold store which will have to be set aside for the purpose.
The aim is to store the body at approximately 4°C, it should not be frozen. An alternative, if near
port, is to lay the naked body on ice in a bath and to cover the body with lots of ice.
Burial at sea
Only in the most exceptional circumstances (and where there is no suspicion of foul play) might
it be appropriate to proceed directly to dispose of the body at sea. Next of kin and/or the
seafarer's employing company should always be consulted where possible and advice should be
sought on an appropriate commital service or procedure. For burial at sea it is not necessary to
do more than to lay the body on a flat surface, straighten the legs and arms and interlock the
fingers over the thighs. The hair should be brushed off the forehead, the face washed, and the
jaw secured by passing a bandage under the chin and over the top of the head, where it may be
tied or clipped. The body should be sewn into a shroud.
Bear in mind that the shroud needs to be made of a very strong material and weighted
sufficiently to ensure the rapid sinking and permanent submersion ofthe body. There should be
three or four slits or openings in the material to allow the gases of decomposition to escape and
prevent flotation due to trapped air.
Burial should not take place in soundings in any part of the world.
After preparation the body should be placed upon an improvised platform resting on the
ship's side rail and a suitable trestle or other support, covered by an ensign, secured to the
inboard edge of the platform. Wooden blocks screwed under the platform and resting against
the ship's side rail will prevent the platform sliding outboard when the inboard end is raised to
allow the body to slide from under the flag into the sea. It is very important to ensure that the
whole operation proceeds smoothly and respectfully without unseemly mishaps. If the ship is
small and there is a heavy sea, precautions must be taken to ensure that the body will not be
prematurely lost and will not fail to drop cleanly into the sea at the right moment. This may
warrant fastening guide rails on the platform. The seafarers allocated to perform the disposal
must be carefully briefed. At the words of the Committal, and on receipt of a discreet signal,
they must raise the inboard end of the platform to allow the body to slide from under the
ensign into the sea.
Record the event in the official log book with the exact time and position of burial.
207
Radio medical advice
This is available by radio telegraphy, or by direct contact with
the doctor by radio telephony from a number of ports in all
parts of the world. Details of world wide services can be
found in the Admiralty List of Radio Signals (ARLS) Vol 1.
Satellite telecommunications using facsimile and voice have
facilitated this direct contact.
Additionally, it may, on
occasion, be obtained from other ships in the vicinity who
have a doctor on board. In either instance it is better if the
exchange of information is in a language common to both
parties. Coded messages are a frequent
source of
misunderstanding and should be avoided as far as possible.
However, the medical section of the International Code of
Signals should be used whenever appropriate.
Telemedicine systems are in development. exploiting
digital image handling and telecommunications technology.
As yet they are experimental, expensive and of limited
benefit, however, in the near future robust, well supported,
effective and affordable systemswill emerge.
It is very important that all the information possible is
passed on to the doctor and that all his advice and
instructions are clearly understood and fully recorded. A
comprehensive set of notes should be ready to passon to the
doctor, preferably based on the appropriate format below
(one is for illnesses;the other for injuries). Have a pencil and
paper available to make notes and remember to transcribe
these notes to the patient's and to the ship's records after
receiving them. It is a good idea to record the exchange of
information by means of a tape recorder if one is available.
This may then be played back to clarify written notes. Some
countries may not be aware of the contents of your ship's
medical chest and it will save time and bother if you have a
list of drugs and appliances available (MSN 1726). When
contacting British or other doctors who may be aware of the
standards required in British ships, be prepared to notify
them of the category of medical stores carried and whether
there are any deficiencies likely to affect treatment in the
particular case.
It may be necessary, under certain circumstances, to
withhold the name of the patient when obtaining medical
advice in order to preserve confidentiality. In such casesthe
patient's name and rank may be submitted later in writing to
complete the doctor's records. Age, sex and ethnic origin are
more important than the patient's name.
Radio medical advice
Medivac service by
helicopter
Ship-to-ship transfer of
doctor or patient
Communicating with
doctors
210
THE SHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Information to be ready when requesting RADIO MEDICAL ADVICE
Complete the appropriate form or notes before asking for assistance. Give the relevant
information to your radio medical adviser. Get any advice you are given down in writing as you
receive it, and repeat back to your adviser to avoid misunderstanding.
A. In the case of illness
1.0 routine particulars about the ship
1.1 name of ship
1.2 call sign/MMSI/INMARSAT number
1.3 date and time (GMT)
1.4 position, course, speed
1.5 last port of call
1.5.1 port of destination is ............
and is ............ hours/days away
1.5.2 nearest port is ............
and is ............ hours/days away
1.5.3 other possible port is ............
and is ............ hours/daysaway
1.6 local weather (if relevant)
2.0
3.10
3.11
4.0
4.1
4.2
name of casualty (optional)
ethnic origin
rank
2.4 job on board (occupation)
2.5 age
3.0 particulars of the illness
3.1 when did the illness first begin?
3.2 how did the illness begin (suddenly,
slowly, ............ )?
3.3 what did the patient first complain of?
3.4 list all his complaints and symptoms
3.5 describe the course of his present
illness from the beginning to the
present time
3.6 give any important past illnesses/
injuries/operations
3.7 give particulars of known illnesses
which run in the family (family history) .
3.8 describe any social pursuits or
occupations which may be important
(social and occupational history)
3.9 list all medicines/tablets/drugs which
the patient was taking before the
present illness began and give the
dose(s) and how often taken
(see 6.1 below)
results of examination of the ill person
temperature, pulse and respiration
describe the general appearance of
the patient
4.3
describe the appearance of the
affected parts
4.4
what do you find on examination of
the affected parts (swelling,
tenderness, lack of movement, and so
on)?
4.5
what tests have you done and with
what result (urine, other)?
routine particulars about the patient
2.1
2.2
2.3
list any known allergies
has the patient been taking any
alcohol or do you think he is on drugs?
5.0 diagnosis
5.1 what do you think the diagnosis is?
5.2 what other illnesses have you
considered (the differential
diagnosis)?
6.0
6.1
6.2
treatment
list ALL the medicines/tablets/drugs
wh ich the patient has taken or been
given since the illness began and
give the dose(s) and the times given
or how often given (see 3.9 above).
Do not use the term 'standard
antibiotic treatment'. Name the
antibiotic given.
how has the patient responded to
the treatment given?
7.0 problems
7.1 what problems are worrying you now?
7.2 what do you think you need to be
advised on?
8.0
other comments
9.0
comments by the rad io doctor
Chapter 13 EXTERNALASSISTANCE
B. In the case of injury
1.0 routine particulars about the ship
1.1 name of ship
1.2 call sign/MMSl/lNMARSAR number
1.3 date and time (GMT)
1.4 course, speed, position
1.5 last port of caII
1.5.1 port of destination is ............
and is ............ hours/days away
nearest port is ............
and is ............ hours/days away
1.5.3 other possible port is ............
and is ............ hours/days away
1.6 local weather (if relevant)
1.5.2
2.0 routine particulars about the patient
2.1 name of casualty (optional)
2.2 ethnic origin
2.3 rank
2.4 job on board (occupation)
2.5 age
3.0
3.1
3.2
3.3
3.4
3.5
3.6
3.7
3.8
history of the injuries
exactly how did the injuries arise?
how long ago was that?
what does the patient complain of?
(list the complaints in order of
importance or severity)
give important past illnessesl injuriesl
operations
list ALL medicines/tablets/drugs which
the patient was taking before the
present injury (injuries) and give doses
and how often taken
list any known allergies
has the patient been taking any
alcohol or do you think he is on drugs?
does the patient remember everything
that happened, or did he lose
consciousness even for a short time?
3.9
if he lost consciousness, describe when,
or how long, and the depth of
unconsciousness. Use AVPA (see
Chapter 4) or GCS
4.0
4.1
4.2
results of examination
5.0
5.1
treatment
temperature, pulse and respiration
describe the general condition of the
patient
4.3 list what you believe to be the
patient's injuries in order of
importance and severity
4.4 did the patient lose any blood? If so,
how much?
4.5 what tests have you done and with
what result (urine, other)?
describe the first-aid and other
treatment which you have carried out
since the injuries occurred
5.2 list ALL the medicines/tablets/drugs
which the patient has taken or been
given, and give the dose(s) and the
times given or how often given. Do
not use the term 'standard antibiotic
treatment'. Name the antibiotic given
5.3
how has the patient responded to the
treatment?
6.0 problems
6.1 what problems are worrying you now?
6.2 what do you think you need to be
advised on
7.0
other comments
8.0
comments by the radio doctor
Medivac service by helicopter
Do not ask for a helicopter unless the patient is in a serious situation and never for trivial illness
or for your convenience. Remember that, apart from the expense of helicopter evacuation, the
pilot and crew often risk their lives to render assistance to ships at sea and their services should
be used only in a genuine emergency.
The normal procedure is as follows.
Contact the coast radio station (details in ARLS Vol 1), ask for medical advice and they will
normally transfer your call to a doctor. Give the doctor all the information you can so that he can
make an assessment of the seriousness of the situation. He will normally give advice on
immediate care of the patient. After the link call is over, the doctor will advise the Search and
Rescue (SAR) authority on the best method of evacuation and, should helicopter evacuation be
thought desirable, the SAR authority will make the necessary arrangements and will keep in
touch with the ship.
211
212
THE SHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Do not expect a helicopter to appear right away. There are certain operational matters to
consider and although the service is always manned, delay may ensue. Remember that the range
of a helicopter is limited, depending on the type in service, and you may be asked to rendezvous
nearer land. In bad weather and at extreme ranges it may be necessary to arrange for another
aircraft to overfly and escort the helicopter for safety reasons and this aircraft may have to be
brought from another base. Arrangements may haveto be made for a refuelling stop to be made
at sayan oil rig sothat the helicopter can make the pickup and then fly back without further stops.
All this takes time, and, as it is done with the utmost efficiency, do not keep calling to ask
where the helicopter is.
More detailed information is available from the Merchant Ship Search and Rescue Manual
(MERSAR) or Volume 3 of the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue
Manual (IAMSAR).
When helicopter evacuation is decided upon:
•
It is essential that the ship's position should be given to the rescuers as accurately as
possible. A fix plus the bearing (magnetic or true) and distance from a fixed object, like a
headland or lighthouse, should be given if possible. The type of ship and colour of hull
should be included if time allows.
•
Give details of your patient's condition and report any change in it immediately. Details of
his mobility are especially important as he may require to be lifted by stretcher.
•
Inform the bridge and engine room watches. A person who is capable of communicating
correctly and efficiently by radio should be nominated to communicate with the helicopter.
•
Helicopters are fitted with VHF and/or UHF RT.They cannot normally work on the MF
frequencies, although certain large helicopters can communicate on 2,182 kHz MF. If direct
communication between the ship and the assisting helicopter cannot be effected on either
VHF or 2,182 kHz, it may be possible to do so via a lifeboat if one is in the vicinity.
Alternatively a message may be passed via a Coast Radio Station or Rescue Co-ordination
Centre (RCC)on 2,182 kHz, or on VHF.
•
Passenger ships are required to carry radio equipment operating on the aeronautical
frequencies 121. SMHz and 123.1 MHz. These frequencies are reserved for distress and
urgency purposes and can be used to communicate with the helicopter.
•
The ship must be on a steady course giving minimum ship motion. Relative wind should be
maintained as follows:
For helicopter operating area
• Aft - 300 on Port Bow .
• Midships - 300 on Starboard Bow .
• Forward - 300 on Starboard Quarter.
If this is not possible the ship should remain stationary head to wind, or follow the
instructions of the helicopter crew.
• An indication of relative wind direction should be giv~n. Flags and pennants are suitable
for this purpose. Smoke from a galley funnel may also give an indication of the wind but in
all caseswhere any funnel is making exhaust, the wind must be at least two points off the
port bow.
•
Clear as large an area of deck (or covered hatchway) as possible and mark the area with a
large letter 'H' in white. Whip or wire aerials in and around the area should, if at all
possible, be struck.
•
All loose articles must be securely tied
downwash from the helicopter's rotor
rope and gash etc., thereby presenting
if sucked into a helicopter engine, can
•
From the air, especially if there is a lot of shipping in the area, it is difficult for the pilot of
a helicopter to pick out the particular ship he is looking for from the many in sight, unless
that ship uses a distinctive distress signal which can be clearly seen by him. One such signal
down or removed from the transfer area. The
will easily lift unsecured covers, tarpaulins, hoses,
a severe flying hazard. Even small pieces of paper
cause the helicopter to crash.
Chapter 13 EXTERNALASSISTANCE
is the orange coloured smoke signal carried in the lifeboats. This is very distinct from the air.
A well trained Aldis lamp can also be seen, except in very bright sunlight when the lifeboat
heliograph could be used. The display of these signals will save valuable time in the
helicopter locating the casualty, and may mean all the difference between successand
failure.
•
On no account must the winch wire be allowed to foul any part ofthe ship or rigging, or
the helicopter be made fast to the ship.
•
The winch wire should be handled only by personnel wearing rubber gloves. A helicopter
can build up a charge of static electricity which, if discharged through a person handling
the winch wire, can kill or cause severe injury. The helicopter crew will normally discharge
the static electricity before commencing the operation by dipping the winch wire in the sea
or allowing the hook to touch the ship's deck. However, under some conditions sufficient
static electricity can build up during the operation to give unprotected personnel a severe
shock.
•
When co-operating with helicopters in SAR operations, ships should not attempt to provide
a lee whilst helicopters are engaged in winching operations as this tends to create
turbulence.
•
The survivor is placed in the stretcher, strapped in such a manner that it is impossible for
him to slip or fall out, and both stretcher and crewman are winched up into the helicopter.
Ifthe patient is already in a Neil-Robertson type stretcher this can either be lifted straight
into the aircraft or placed in the rigid frame stretcher.
•
At all times obey the instructions of the helicopter crew. They have the expertise to do this
job quickly and efficiently.
Preparation of the patient for evacuation:
•
Place in a plastic envelope the patient's medical records (if any) together with any necessary
papers (including passport), so that they can be sent with him.
•
Add to the medical record, in the envelope, notes of any treatment
Seethat he is tagged if morphine has been given to him.
•
If possible ensure that your patient is wearing a lifejacket
stretcher.
given to the patient.
before he is moved to the
Ship-to-ship transfer of doctor or patient
This is a seamanship problem which demands high standards of competence for its safe and
efficient performance. There should be no need to advise professional seamen concerning this
operation, but this guide may occasionally be in the hands of yachtsmen or small craft operators
to whom a few reminders may be appropriate.
A very large tanker or other ship under way at sea may require 30 minutes or more to bring
her main propulsion machinery to stand-by, so use your daylight signalling apparatus or VHF as
soon as possible. Loaded, large tankers require several miles to take off their headway and are
difficult to manoeuvre close to small craft.
Light (unloaded) ships of any type and high-sided passenger ships will make considerable
leeway when stopped and must be approached with caution. Some ships may have to turn their
propellers very slowly during the operation.
Keep clear of the overhang of bows or stern, especially if there is any sea running. Also
beware of any permanent fendering fitted at sides. The general rule is that the ship with the
higher freeboard will provide illumination and facilities for boarding and will indicate the best
position.
Do not linger alongside for any reason; as soon as the operation is completed use full power
to get your craft clear. There may be a suction effect that will hold you alongside and which may
be dangerous if you do not use full power. Foryourown safety, make sure you are seen and your
actions are communicated to the Master ofthe larger ship and act promptly on his instructions.
See section above: 'Preparation of the patient for evacuation'
213
214
THE SHIP CAPTAIN'S MEDICAL GUIDE
Communicating with doctors
As a matter of courtesy aswell asof information, a letter or form should always be sent with any
patient who is going to see a doctor. The crew member will be a stranger to the doctor and
there may be a language difficulty. A written communication in a foreign language is often
easier to understand than a spoken one. The letter should include routine particulars about the
crew member (name, date of birth) and about the ship (name of ship, port, name of agent,
owner). The medical content of the letter should follow a systematic approach and should give
the doctor a synopsis of all that is known about the person which may be relevant, including
copies of any information from doctors in previous ports. This is why the use of a form for this
purpose is particularly valuable because the doctor can then be requested to write back to the
Master on the form.
ANNEX I
Anatomy and physiology
To provide adequate medical care on board ship there is no
need to have a detailed knowledge of anatomy (structure of
the body) or of physiology (function of bodily systems).
Nevertheless the information provided in this Annex could
be useful when examining a patient or obtaining and acting
on radio medical advice.
The principal bones of the skeleton and the main muscles
of the body are illustrated in Figures 1.1and 1.2.The position
ofthe organs inthe chest and abdomen isdepicted in Plates 14
and 15.
The bone structure
ANNEX I
Anatomy and physiology
Bone structure
Voluntary muscles
Involuntary muscles
Circulatory system
Breathing system
Digestive system
The skeleton, which consistsof bones and cartilages, provides
a rigid framework. The separate bones and cartilages are held
together firmly at the joints by strong bands of connective
tissue (the ligaments). Eachbone isenveloped in a very tough
adherent sheath of fibrous tissue. Between the sheath and
the bone surface is a layer of bone-forming cells which can
produce new bone in the event of a fracture.
The shaft of a typical long bone has a thick wall of dense
bone which forms a hollow cylinder enclosing a central canal
containing bone marrow. At each end the shaft is expanded
to make the joint surface. These surfaces are covered by a
smooth layer of cartilage to permit movements without
causing friction.
ANNEX \I
Voluntary
Anatomi<;al drawings
muscles
These form the bulk of the fleshy parts of the body. They are
fixed to the bones by blending with the sheaths of fibrous
tissue surrounding the bones. Some are attached directly to a
wide area of bone surface but others taper to form a strong
cord (tendon or leader) which is attached at a specific place
on a bone. Muscles, and especially those of the limbs, are
arranged in two opposing groups. Contraction of one group
in response to an impulse through the nerve supply must be
accompanied by simultaneous relaxation of the opposing
group, or movement will not take place. These movements
are under conscious control.
Involuntary
muscles
These are found in the stomach and intestines, in the heart
and blood vessels, and also in other internal organs of the
body. They continue to work throughout life as part of
natural body function outside the control of personal will.
Urinary system
Nervous system
Skin
The skeleton
Main voluntary muscles
Organs of chest and
abdomen
216
THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Circulatory system
Blood
The body contains about 5 litres of blood which consists
basically of four constituents: plasma; red cells; white
cells; and platelet cells.
The plasma is the liquid component of the blood
which circulates to all the tissue cells throughout the
body. It distributes food, water, salts and heat and
collects waste products which are subsequently excreted.
The red cells predominate and give the blood its
colour. This colour is derived from a complex iron
compound (haemoglobin) which is the main oxygen
carrier.
The white cells give protection against infection by
attacking and killing bacteria and also by producing
substanceswhich are necessaryfor building up resistance
to further infections.
The main purpose of platelets is to assist in the blood
clotting mechanism.
The heart and blood vessels
The heart is a thick-walled muscular pump about the size
of a clenched fist. It isdivided in the mid line into two sides
which do not communicate. Each side has an upper and
lower chamber which communicate through a main heart
valve. The separate chambers are each served by a major
blood vessel that either brings blood to the chamber or
carries it away. SeePlate 15.
The right side receives venous blood which, having
been circulated around the body, has g"lvenup its oxygen
and collected carbon dioxide. This blood is pumped
through the lungs where it is replenished with oxygen
and discards the carbon dioxide. As purified blood, it
returns to the left side to be pumped through the
arteries to all parts of the body.
The blood vesselsform a closed system of tubes. The
arteries, which have to take the full force of the pumping
pressure, have thick walls containing muscle fibres and
elastic tissue. Each heart beat widens the bore of the
arteries to accommodate the surge of blood. Between
beats the bore is returned to normal by the action of the
muscle fibres and elastic tissue. Where an artery runs
close to the body surface, the changing pressurescan be
felt asa pulse.
The arteries penetrate to all parts of the body,
dividing and sub-dividing until they narrow to form very
thin-walled vessels(capillaries). The capillaries then join
with the venous network which returns the blood to the
heart (Figure 1.2). The size of veins increases until the
heart is reached.
The capillary system isvital to the life of all tissues. The
thin capillary vessel wall allows nutrients, oxygen, heat
and beneficial chemical substance to enter the cells and,
most important, waste products to be passedout into the
blood.
Breathing system
Everytime a breath istaken in, the air (20% oxygen) passesthrough the nose or mouth and then
past the larynx or voice box into the windpipe (trachea) which isabout 12.5cm long. At its lower
end the windpipe divides into two main tubes called bronchi (Figure 1.3).
The main air passage in each lung (the bronchus) divides into successively smaller branches
which carry inhaled air to all parts of the lung. Each small branch terminates by forming a
cluster of very tiny air sacs(the alveoli). A fine network of blood vesselscovers the surface of
every air sac thereby permitting gas exchange by diffusion. Oxygen from the inspired air
passes through the thin tissues to combine with the haemoglobin of the red blood cells.
Waste gases, mainly carbon-dioxide, pass from blood into the air sacs and are expelled on
breath ing out.
Haemoglobin + Oxygen = Oxyhaemoglobin
(purple red colour)
(bright red colour of normal blood)
Whenever the blood is insufficiently oxygenated, as in pneumonia, the purple red hue of the
blood shows asa blue tinge of the lips.
Each lung is covered by a lubricated lining called the pleura. The inner side of the chest wall
is also covered by a similar lining. These two layers of pleura are in contact and slide smoothly
over one another during breathing.
The act of breathing is mainly due to the diaphragm moving up and down. The diaphragm
is a large dome-shaped muscle which separates the chest from the abdominal cavity. When
the diaphragm muscle contracts, its dome becomes flattened and draws down the lungs,
causing air to enter them; when it relaxes the lungs become smaller and the air in them is
expelled. The muscles of the abdomen also help in breathing. When they tighten up, they
press the abdominal contents up against the diaphragm and help in expelling air from the
lungs; when they relax, they assist the diaphragm in drawing down the lungs as breathing in
takes place.
The normal rate of breathing at rest is 16-18 times a minute. This rate increases
considerably with exertion and also with certain diseases, especially those affecting the heart
and lungs.
218
THESHIPCAPTAIN'SMEDICALGUIDE
Digestive system
The abdomen is a cavity shut off from the chest by the diaphragm. The cavity is lined by a sheath
of membrane (the peritoneum) which also enfolds some of the abdominal organs. The sheath
secretes fluid which keeps the abdominal contents moist and prevents friction.
The digestive tract
This is a passage consisting of the gullet (oesophagus), the stomach, the small intestine, the
large intestine, the rectum and the anus.
The gullet is a straight muscular tube which joins the throat to the stomach. It passes down
through the back ofthe chest cavity and goes through an opening in the diaphragm to connect
with the upper part ofthe stomach.
The stomach is a J shaped pouch. It enlarges when food or liquid is consumed. The lower part
of the stomach is narrow where it joins with the first part (duodenum) of the small intestine.
The small intestine is a narrow-bore coiled tube, roughly 7.5 metres long, which occupies
most of the central part of the abdominal cavity. The internal surface of the wall bears a large
number of very small folds which project inwards to increase the surface area in contact with
the contents ofthe intestine. The small intestine joins with the large intestine in the right lower
quarter of the abdomen.
The large intestine is a wide-bore tube, roughly 1.5 metres long, which arches upwards and
across the abdominal cavity before descending the left side to join with the rectum.
The rectum is roughly 150 mm long and is continuous at its lower end with the very short anal
canal which opens to the exterior.
The digestive process
Digestion is the physical and chemical breakdown of food into useful products which are then
absorbed by the capillaries of the blood vessels serving the gut. The unwanted residue of food
is excreted as faeces.
The digestive tract walls contain involuntary muscle which by contractions moves the
contents through the entire length until they reach the rectum where they are stored as faeces
prior to evacuation. At certain places such as the entrance and exit to the stomach and at the
anus, circular bands of muscle capable of constriction (sphincters) act as valves to shut off the
flow.
The physical breakdown of food is accomplished by chewing, by the churning actions of the
gut and by the addition of special digestive juices to the food. This begins in the mouth when
food is mixed with saliva which contains enzymes. In the stomach, acid gastric juice is secreted
by the stomach walls and acts on the food which may be retained there for several hours before
passing through the duodenum. Small ducts from the bile system of the liver and also from the
pancreas open into the duodenum. These ducts provide juices which are partly designed to
neutralise the acid from the stomach juice and thus allow the enzymes secreted by the
duodenal walls to act more efficiently. The churning of the gut then ensures a thorough mixing
of food and digestive juices throughout the length of the small intestine where most of the
chemical breakdown takes place. The main functions of the large intestine are to re-absorb
water from the food residue and to reduce the bulk of the faeces.
The liver
The abdominal veins drain into the liver and carry to it the useful products which have been
absorbed during the digestive process. One of the main liver functions is to act as a chemical
factory which processes these products into substances necessary for nutrition.
Annex I ANATOMYAND PHYSIOLOGY
Urinary system
The kidneys are located at the back of the upper part of the abdominal cavity, one on each side
of the spine (see Plate 14). They are embedded in fat to cushion them from injury.
The main kidney function is to remove water and certain harmful waste products from the
blood and, by this filtering process, to form urine. They control total body water and the
concentration of various chemical substances in the blood. The kidneys also play an important
part in maintaining a steady level of blood pressure.
The urine is carried downward from the kidneys to the urinary bladder by tubes of small
calibre (the ureters); one tube for each kidney. The urinary bladder is a muscular bag situated in
the front part of the cavity formed by the pelvic bones. The bladder acts as a reservoi r where
urine collects until it is expelled by voluntary muscular contractions through a tube (the
urethra) which leaves from the bladder base.
The male urethra measures 18 to 20 cm from the bladder to the external opening at the end
of the penis. A knowledge of this length is important when passing a catheter. The female
urethra is much shorter, being about 4 cm in length. It runs embedded in the upper vaginal wall
to the external opening just above the vaginal orifice.
Nervous system
Cerebra-spinal nervous system
This consists of the brain, spinal cord and the associated nerves. The brain is in the cavity of the
skull. It is the co-ordinating centre for the nervous system, processing incoming information
from nerves concerned with sight, smell, taste, hearing, sensation etc. and controlling various
parts of the body, particularly muscles by way of out going (motor nerves). Higher functions
include intellect, memory, personality etc.
The spinal cord emerges from the base of the brain and leaves the skull into the bony
vertebral canal. It is protected by vertebrae throughout its length, and nerves emerge at
regular intervals. These nerves control muscles and transmit sensation back through the spinal
column to the brain.
Sympathetic nervous system
This is a fine network of nerves not under direct voluntary control influencing the function of
various organs, especially gut, bladder, blood vesselsand heart.
Skin
This protects and covers the body. It consists of two layers. The outer layer is hard and contains
no blood vesselsor nerves. This outer layer protects the inner layer, where there are sensitive
nerve endings numerous sweat glands and the roots of the hair.
Sweat consists of water, salt and some impurities from the blood. The evaporation of the
sweat cools the body, and helps to regulate its temperature.
219
227
ABC status 76
Abdomen
Examination 142
Organs 224-5
Abdominal emergencies 142-3
Abdominal pain or discomfort
Appendicitis
143-4
Blast injury 40
Bleeding, internal 22
Chemicals, ingestion 46-7
Cholera 100
Colicky, causes 144-5
Cyanide poisoning 48
Enteric fever 102
Glandular fever 103
Minor abdominal conditions 137
Pelvic inflammatory disease 123
Peritonitis 150
Severe 138-9
Spasmodic 137
Yellow fever 115
Abdominaltenderness
139,141
Abortion
140-1
Abrasions 69
Abscesses 172-3
Aching, of body generally
Malaria 105-7
Poliomyelitis 110
Acquired immuno deficiency
syndrome (AIDS) 124
Acute gastroenteritis
146
Acute red eye 163-4
Adhesive skin closures 71
Adrenaline
181
Aedes mosquitoes 101
Alcohol 46
abuse 64, 179-80
Allergy
Lesser reactions 181
Major reaction 181
Alveoli 217
Amitriptylline
46
Ammonia vapour 48
Amoebic dysentery 59,147
Anaemia 182
Anal discomfort
fissure 143
itching (pruritus) 143
Anatomy 215-19
Drawings 220-5
Angina pectoris 128, 130-1
Animal bites 170-1
Ankle fracture 31
Anorexia nervosa 193
Ant sting 172
Anthrax 98
Antibiotic treatment
Barber's rash (sycosis barbae) 174
Boils, hand 190
Burns 82
Chest injuries 39
Diphtheria
101
Eye ointment
78-80
Face/mouth wounds 82
Hand infection 173
Impetigo 176
Internal injuries 74
Kneecap fracture 30-1
Lymphangitis 186
Open fracture, fingers 26
Paronychia 174
Rat bites 170
Wounds 73
Antihistamines, side effects 181,
184
Antiseptic 91
Anusol 143,147
Anxiety 159
Appendicitis
138-9, 142, 173-4
Pain shifting 152
Artery 216
Artificial respiration
Allergic reactions 181
Coronary thrombosis 129
Inhaled poisons 46
Lung (blast) injury 40
Overdose 47
Suffocation
18
Survivors, after hypothermia
202
Unconscious patient 15-16
Asphyxia 18
Aspirin
Coronary thrombosis 129
Overdose 47
Urticaria 178
Astemizole 178
Allergic reaction 181
Asthma 54,133-4,181
Astringents 46
Athlete's foot 175
A.V.P.U. score 76-7
Baby
Deformity or death 200
Not breathing after delivery 200
Presentation, births 200
Bacillary dysentery 147
Acute 59
Backache 94, 168-9
Dengue fever 101
Painful period 193
Plague 109
Poliomyelitis 114
Yellow fever 115
Bacteria 95
Bacterial vaginosis 122-3
Balanitis 117
Balanoposthitis
118
Bandages 7-11
Barber's rash 174
Bed
Baths 56
Feeding patients 56
Sores 57
Bee sting 172
Bell's palsy 160
Benzoic acid 175-6
Betamethasone
191-2
Biliarycolic
130-1,138-9,145
Bites 69
Animal 170-1
Snake 170-7
Black eye 79
Bladder/kidney inflammation
155-6
Blast injuries 39-40
Abdomen 40
Head 39
Lungs 39-40
Bleaching solutions 48
Bleeding
External 20-1
Internal 22
Abdomen (blast injuries) 40
Fractures 27
High bone shaft fracture 30
Pelvis fracture 36
Severe 14
Wound 71
Bleeding peptic ulcers 151
Blisters 83
Anthrax 98
Chickenpox (varicella) 99
Blood 216
Coughing up 22
Transfusion 22
Vomiting 22
Blood pressure, high 132
Blood vessels 216
Boils 172-3
Hands/fingers 190
Bone structure 215
Boredom 94
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy
(BSE) 95
Bowel
movement 58
sounds 142-3
Brain 219
Compression 64
Concussion 64
Breathing difficulties
61
Breathing systems 217
Bronchi 217
Bronchitis 46,60
Acute 134-5
Chronic 135
Measles 107
Buboes 109,119-20,129
Burial at sea 207
Burns
Chemical 17
Eye 80
Classification 82
.Electrical 17
Fluid loss 82
Heat 17
Rule of nines 82-3
Special 83
Treatment 82-3
Calamine lotion 99,101,107,177
Shingles (herpes zoster) 178
Cap 195
Capillaries 216
Carbolic acid 48
Carbon dioxide poisoning 46
Carbon monoxide poisoning 46,48
Carbonic acid gas 48
Carbuncles 172-3
Caries 165
Carrier 96
228
THE SHIP CAPTAIN'S MEDICAL GUIDE
Catering staff, personal hygiene 90
Catheterisation,
male 156-8
Cellulitis 99,172-3
Centipedes
172
Cerebro-spinal fluid, leakage 75
Chalazion
163
Chancre 120
Chancroid
117, 119-20
Chaps 175
Charcoal, oral 47
Chemical splashes 17
Chest compression
16
Allergic reaction
181
Baby not breathing after delivery 200
Coronary thrombosis
129
Chest injuries 38-9
Chest organs 224-5
Chest pain 128, 135
Associated signs 130-1
Chickenpox
99
Chilblains
175
Child inside womb 197
Childbirth
197-200
Chlamydia
117
Chlamydiallymphogranuloma
117,121
Chlorhexidine gluconate 20%
(HIBISCRUB) 189
Chlorinated lime 86-7
Chlorine 45
Compound
86
Chloroquine
106-7
Chlorpromazine
158-9
Delirium tremens 180
Choking
18
Cholecystitis
130-1, 145-6
Cholera 59, 88, 100, 146
Chostochondritis
136
Cimetidine
150
Ciprofloxacin
102
After delivery
199
Bacillary dysentery
147
Bronchitis
135
Cholecystitis
146
Genitalulcers
119
Otitis media 162
Urethritis
118
Circulatory collapse 19-20
Circulatory system 216
Cleanliness 69
On board ships 90
Clove oil 165-6
Codeine phosphate
Backache 168
Boil in the ear 162
Coronary thrombosis
129
Gout 168-9
Head injury 77
Meningitis
108
Twisted testicle 154
Urticaria
178
Coil 195
Cold in the chest 134
Colds 95
Collapsed lung 137
Collar bone fracture
28
Common cold 182
Virus 85
Communicability
period 96
Communicable diseases 95-115
Infectious agents 95
Management, general rules 97
Symptoms and signs 96
Terms used 96
Transmission modes 95-6
Composite temperature
94
Compression of brain 75
Compression test, pelvis fracture
36
Concussion 77
Condom 126,195
Conjunctivitis
160, 163-4
Consciousness level 74
Constipation
204
Contact 96
Contraception
195
Contraceptive pill 195
Convulsions
19,48
Head injury 76
Corneal abrasion 79
Coronary arteries 128
Coronary thrombosis
128-31
Crepitus 191
Cresol 48
Creutzfeld Jacob disease 95
Crush injuries 25
Hand 30
Crutch bandage
10
Curly weed rash 192
Cyanide 48
Cystitis 140-1,155-6
Dapsone 106
Death
Cause of 206
Disposal ofthe body 207
Mistaken 205
Procedure after 206-7
Signs 205
Dehydration
61-2
Alcoholic
179-80
Cholera 100
Survivors 204
Delirium tremens
180
Deltoid muscle, intramuscular
injection
66
Dengue fever 101
Dental abscess 160
Dental injuries 81-2
Dental pain 165
Deodorant
91
Depression 158-9
Dermatitis
175, 181
Dhobie itch 175-6
Diabetes mellitus
118,173
Treatment
182-3
Diabetic coma 64, 182-3
Diaphragm
126,217
Diarrhoea
61,138,140,142,146
Acute gastroenteritis
146
Anthrax
98
Cholera 100
Diazepam 19,46
Angina pectoris 128
Anxiety without depression
159
Burns 82
Hernia rupture
148
High blood pressure 132
Paroxysmal tachycardia
129
Prickly heat 177
Rectal 76
Snake bites 170
Diet, balanced see also Food 89
Diclofenac
133, 191
Rheumaticfever
169
Digestion 218
Digestive system 218
Diphtheria
101
Diseases
Causes and prevention
85
Communicable
95-115
Disinfectant poisoning
48
Disinfection at the end of illness 91-2
Disinfestation
91
Dislocations
37, 84
Doctor(s)
Communication
214
Ship-to-ship transfer 213
Dogger Bank itch 192
Doxycycl ine 100, 110, 114
Chancroid
120
Chlamydiallymphogranuloma
121
Genital ulcers 119
Granuloma inguinale
122
Pelvic inflammatory
disease 123
Sinusitis 165
Syphilis 121
Twisted testicle 154
Urethritis
118
Vaginal discharge 123
Dressings 7
Drug abuse 183-4
Drunkenness
179
Duodenal ulcer 150-1
Perforated
144
Duodenum
218
Dying, care of 205
Dysentery 90
Ear(s)
Boil 162
Examination
161
Foreign bodies 81
Infection
Middle 162-3
Outer 161-2
Internal 81
Parts 161
Wax 161
Ectopic pregnancy
123,140-1,145,
194
Eczema 181
Elbow fractures 28
Electrocution
17
Entericfever
95, 102, 146
Epilepsy 64
Fits 19
Ergometrine
194, 198-9
Erysipelas 99
Erythromycin
114
After delivery
199
Appendicitis
144
Bronchitis
195
INDEX
Chlamydiallymphogranuloma
121
Otitis media 162
Sinusitis 16S
Syphilis 121
Exercise 94
Eye 163
Anatomy 78
Bandage 11
Chemical contact 47
Deep inflammation
164
Diagram 78
Examination 78-9
Fire extinguisher powder, damage 17
Injuries 78-81
Arc eyes (Welder's flash) 80
Chemical burns 80
Corneal abrasions 79
Eyeball wounds 80
Eyelid wounds 80
Foreign bodies 79
Facial paralysis 100
Faeces
Examination 58-9
Abnormalities
58-9
Certain diseases' effects 59
Testing 195
Fainting 64
Fansidar 106-7
Female sexual organs 193
Femidom 195
Fenoloils 48
Fever 53
Anth rax 98
Chickenpox (varicella) 99
Malaria 106
Meningitis
107
Scarlet fever 112
Fibrositis 169-70
Filariasis 95
Finger
Dislocation 84
Fractures 29
Infections 189-90
First aid
General assessment 6
General principles 5
Kit 14
Priorities 5
Fish hook, removal 192
Fish poisoning (erysipeloid) skin
disease 192
Fishermen's conjunctivitis
191
Fishermen's tenosynovitis
191
Fits, head injury 76
see also Convulsions
Flies 85
Fluconazole 118,123
Fluid balance 61-2
Fluid retention
187
Fluids by rectum 22,62, 150
Fluorescein 80
Food
Bacteria 89-90
Canned 89
Contamination
89
Fruit 89
Poisoning 146
Vegetables 89
Foot
Bandage 10
Fractures 32
Forearm fractures 29
Fractures 26-36
Circulation 27
Closed 26
Immobilisation
27
Open 26
Stress 26
Treatment
General 27
Principles 26-7
Freon 49
Frostbite 94, 203
Frusemide
Coronary thrombosis 129
Heart disease, oedema 187
Fungi 95
Gallstone 138-9
Colic 145
Gastric ulcer 150
Genital
herpes 117, 120
itching 19S
ulcers 119
warts 117,123
Germaliods 147
German measles 103
Gingivitis 160, 165
Glandularfever
103,167,180
Glasgow Coma Scale 74
Glyceryl trinitrate
128
Gonorrhoea 85,95,117,122
Complication
153
Gout 168-9
Goutyarthritis
168-9
Grand mal 19
Granuloma inguinale 117, 122
Grazes 69
Guardia 95
Guedel airway 63,65,83
Gullet 218,224
Gum(s) ulcers 166
Haddock rash 191
Haematoma 22
Haemiplegia 160
Haemoglobin
216
Oxygen carrying capacity 217
Haemorrhoidsseealso
Piles 58,143,
147-8
Bleeding 148
Hand
Cuts 191
Infections 173,189-90
Tendons 189
Hand bones, fractures 29
Hangover 180
Hay fever 184
Head injuries 37
Assessment of the patient 74-5
Communication
76-7
Minor 77
229
Pain relief 77
Serious 75-6
Signs 75-6
Head and scalp bandage 11
Headache
Cellulitis 173
Hangover 180
Head injuries 76
Sea sickness 188
Tension 164
Heart 216, 224
Pain 128
Heartburn 130-1, 150
Heat illness, prevention
93-4
Heel bone fracture 31
Heimlich sign (choking) 18
Helicopters 211-13
Hematoma scalp 77
Hepatitis 97, 104
B 117
Hernia
Inguinal 148
Rupture 148
Strangulation
148-9,155
Herpes zoster see Shingles 178
High-test calcium hypochlorite
87
Hip bandage 10
Hookworm 95
Hornet sting 172
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
117,124-5
Hydrocoela 154
Hydrocortisone(1%)ointment
,175,192
Hydrogen 46
Hyoscine hydrobromide
188
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy 48
Hyperpyrexia 52, 184-5
Hypertension 132
Hypothermia
17,53,94,201-2
Causes 201
Diagnosis 201-2
Treatment 202
Ibuprofen
191
Immersion foot 203
Immunisation
98
Enteric fever-typhoid
102
Poliomyelitis
110
Tetanus 112
Impetigo 176
Incontinence 58
Incubation period 96
Indigestion
137
Acute 138-9
Infectious mononucleosis
see Communicable diseases 103
Influenza 95,104
Inguinal hernia 118
Inhaled poisons 45-6
Injections
Filling a syringe 66-7
Intramuscular 66
Subcutaneous 66
Insecticides 91
Insulin 183
coma 182-3
Internal injuries 74
230
Intestinal
Intestinal
THE SHIP CAPTAIN'S MEDICAL GUIDE
colic 138-9, 149
obstruction
140-1,
149
Intestine 218,224-5
Intra-uterine
(coil) device
Involuntary muscles 215
Isolation 92
Period 46
Jarisch-Herxheimer
reaction
123
119,
121
Jaundice 149
Gallstone colic 145
Glandular fever 103
Hepatitis
104
Yellow fever 115
Jaw fracture
32,81-2
Muscle spasm 92
Jellyfish 171
Jumbo wrist 191
Kidney(s) 219,225
Stones 138-9
Kneecap
Bandage 10
Fracture 30-1
Kuru 95
Labour
After delivery 199
Birth 198-9
Onset 194, 198
Preparations
198
Problems during 200
Stages 197
Subsequent management
179
Lacerations 69
Laerdal Pocket Mask 46
Laryngitis
167
Laxative, after delivery
199
Legionnaires'disease
85
Legs, fractures 32
Lice
Head 177
Pubic 177
Lignocaine hydrochloride
71
Fish hook removal 192
Gel 147
Injection, pattern
171
Pulp space infection
190
Sea urchins 172
Lindane (1%) cream 124,177
Liver 218, 224
Local anaesthetic
71
Lumbago 94
Lungs 217
Lymph node
Location 186
Swelling 122
Lymphadenitis
186-7
Lymphangitis
185-6
Septicfinger
190
Lymphatic inflammation
185-6
Lymphoid fever 90
Madness 158
Magnesium trisilicate
137,146,150
compound
Malaria 85,95,146
Areas 105
Guidelines
106
Mosquito bites, avoidance
105
Prevention
105-6
Treatment
106-7
Malnutrition
204
Maloprim
106
Mastoid cells, infection
163
Mattress suture 72-3
Measles 95,107,134
Med Alert Bracelet 181
Medivac service by helicopter
211-13
Mefloquine
106-7
Melaena 58
Meningitis
107-8
Headache 163
Knee straightening
test 108
Neck bending test 108
Meningococcal sepsis 97
Menstrual cycle 193
Mental illness 158-9
Serious 62-3
Metacarpal bones 29
Metazoa 95
Methyl chloride 48-9
Metronidazole
Amoebic dysentery
147
Appendicitis
144
Ging ivitis 166
Pelvic inflammatory
infection
123
Peritonitis
150
Vaginal discharge 123,195
Miconazole cream 176
Microbes (germs) 85
Migraine
164
Miscarriage
140-1
Inevita ble 194
Threatened
194
Morning-after
pill 195
Morning sickness 193
Morphine
20,22
Anxiety relief 205
Backache 168
Biliary colic 145
Bleeding peptic ulcers 151
Contra indications
Chest injury 24,38,40
Head injury 24,77
Coronary thrombosis
129
Crush Injuries, hand 30
Eye, chemical contact 47
Fractures 27
Gallstone colic 145
Internal bleeding
22
Internal injuries 74
Pelvis fracture
36
Perforated ulcer 152
Renal colic 155
Retention of urine 156
Shoulder dislocation
84
Strangulated hernia 148
Thigh bone shaft fracture
30
Vaginal bleeding
194
Mouth
Care 36
Injuries 81-2
Ulcers 160
Mumps 109,118
Complications
153
Muscular rheumatism
130-1, 136,
168
Nail bed inflammation
174
Nail fold infections
190
Neck injuries 35
Neil Robertson stretcher 33,42-4
Neomycin
191-2
Nerves 159
Nervous system 219
Nettle rash 178, 181
Neuralgia
159
Nitrazepam
46
Non-freezing cold injury 203
Nose bleeding
132
Nose injuries
Foreign bodies 81
Inside 81
Nurses 51
Nursing
Care of the injured 52
General 51-2
Oedema
Caused by heart disease 187
Generalised
187
Localised 187
Oesophagus 218
Oil, contamination
with 204
On chcerci asis (river blindness) 95
Orchitis 109
Osteo-arthritis
170
Otitis media 161-3
Overdoses 46-7
Oxygen
Coronary thrombosis
129
Haemoglobin carrying capacity 217
Pleural effusion
136
Pneumothorax
137
Requirements, head injury 37
Suffocation
18
Oxyhaemoglobin
217
Palmar space infection
190
Panda eyes 75
Paracetamol
Abscesses 173
Anal fissure 143
Boils 162, 173
Bronchitis
135
Carbuncles 173
Cellulitis 99
Chostochondritis
136
Common cold 182
Dengue fever 101
Fibrositis 169-70
Glandular fever 103
Hangover
180
Head injuries 77
Influenza
104
Measles 107
Minor abdominal conditions
Mumps 181
Overdose 47
Painful periods 193
Pleurodynia
136
137
INDEX
Paradoxical chest movements
39
Paraffin gauze dressing 24,83,174
Paralysis
Aids for 57
Effects on limbs 57
Patient supported in bed 57
Signs 75
Paraphimosis
153
Paraplegia
160
Paronychia
174
Paroxysmal tachycardia
129
Pediculosis 177
pelvic inflammatory
disease 123, 124
Pelvis fracture(s)
36
Penetrating wound, chest 220
Penicillin 76
Abscesses 173
Allergy 181
Anthrax
98
Appendicitis
144
Boils 173
Carbuncles 173
Cellulitis 99, 173
Genital ulcers 119
Lymphadenitis
186
Meningitis
108
Otitis media 162
Perforated ulcer 152
Peritonitis
150
Pulp infection
174
Quinsy 168
Sinusitis 165
Skull fractures 76
Sore throat
167
Syphilis 121
Urethritis
118
Urticaria
178
Penile swelling
153
Peptic ulcer 130-1, 137, 150-1
Perforated ulcer 140-2,151-2
Peridontal disease 166
Period problems
193
Peritoneum
218
Peritonitis
138-9, 142, 150
Peritonsinal abscess 167-8
Permethrin cream 177
Perspiration see also Sweat 93
Unseen perspiration
61
Pertusis 114
Petit mal 19
Petroleum products 48
Phenol 48
Phlebitis 133
Photophobia
108
Physiology 215-19
Pigeons (salt water boils) 186
Piles see also Haemarrhoids
58,132,
143, 147-8
Pinworms 152-3
Pips (salt water boils) 191
Placenta 197
De livery 199
Plague 85,109,109-10
Plasma 216
Loss 82
Platelet cells 216
Pleura 217
Pleural effusion
136
Pleurisy 130-1, 135
Pleurodynia
130-1,136
Pneumonia
135
Anthrax
98
Bacteria caused 95
Influenza
104
Inhaled poisons 46
Lobar 136-7
Measles 107
Pulse rate: respiration rate 54
Sputum examination
60
Pneumothorax
130-1,137
Poisonous fish 171
Poliomyelitis
110,114
Port health clearance 93
Post-herpetic neuralgia
160
Post-mortem examination
207
Posthitis 117-18
Potable water 85-9
Potassium permanganate
175-6
Pre-menstrual tension
193
Pregnancy 193--4
Bleeding
194
Pressure sores 57
Prickly heat 177
Prions 95
Prochlorperasine
188
Proctitis 125
proguanil
106
Promethazine
188
Prostate gland enlargement
156
Protozoa 95
Pruritus vulvae 195
Prussic acid 48
Pubic lice 117, 123--4
Pulmonary oedema 46,60
Pulp infection
173--4, 190
Pulse rate
Chart 55
Normal 54
Pupil response 75
Pyelitis 155-6
Pyorrhoea
166
Pyrimethamine
106
Quadriplegia
160
Quarantine period 96
Quinine
107
Quinsy 167-8
Rabies 95,111,170
Radio medical advice 209
Information to have ready 210-11
Rashes 97
Recovery position
181
Rectum 218
Red cells 216
Refrigerated gases, poisoning
49
Renal colic 138-9, 155
Respiration rate 54, 217
Chart 55
Normal 54
Respiratory burns 83
Restlessness 74
Rewarming
202
Frostbite 203
231
Rheumaticfever
169
Rheumatism
Acute 169
Chronic 170
Muscular 169-70
Ribfractures
38,130-1,136
Rice water motion
59
Ring pad 11
Ringworm
85,95,176
Roundworms
153
Rubella 103
Salbutamol inhaler 134
Salpingitis
123,140-1,145
Salt water boils 191
Scabies 117, 124, 178
Scalds see also burns 17
Scalp lacerations
77
Scarlet fever 97, 112
Sciatica 94, 160, 168
Scorpions 172
Scrotum swelling
118,154-5
Sea sickness 188
Sea urchins 172
Sensation, absence 33
Septicaemia
107-8
Sexually transmitted disease 117-26
Instructions
Medical attendants
125
Patients 125-6
Prevention
126
Treatment centre at ports 125
Vaginal discharge 194-5
Shakes, alcohol withdrawal
'180
Shingles 130-1,136,178
Ship-to-ship transfer 213
Shock
Abdominal wounds 24
Causes 19
Signs 19
Symptoms 19
Treatment
20
Shoulder
Blade fracture
28
Dislocation
84
Fractures 28
Sick quarters 51
Sinusitis 165
Frontal 165
Maxillary
165
Skeleton 220-1
Skin 219
chemical contact 47
Skull fractures
75-6
Sleeping tablets, overdose 46
Slings 12-13,28
Slipped disk 94
Snake bites 170-1
Sodium bicarbonate, stings 172
Sodium chloride
Acute gastroenteritis
146
Bacillary dysentery
146
Sodium hypochlorite solution
48,87
SoIvents 48
Sore throat
167
Spencer Wells forceps 70-2
Spiders 172
232
THE SHIP CAPTAIN'S MEDICAL GUIDE
Spinal cord 219
Injury 160
Spine fractures 33-5
Splints 13-14
Inflatable
14
Sprains 84
Sputum, examination
60
Stab'wounds
25-6
Abdomen
26
Chest 25
Limbs 26
Sterilisation
69,91
Steristrips 70-1
Stings 171-2
Stomach ulcer 150-1
Stove-in chest injury 38-9
Stretcher see Neil Robertson stretcher
Strains 84
Strangulated hernia 140-1
Strangulation
18
Stroke 64, 132, 160
Headache 164
Styes 163
Suffocation
18, 134
Carbon dioxide 48
Suicide, potential
159
Sunburn 83,94
Surgeon's knot 72-3
Survivors 201-4
Sutures 72
Swallowed poisons 46-7
Sweat see also Perspiration
219
Swollen legs 204
Sycosis barbae 174
Sympathetic nervous system 219
Syphilis 85,117,120-1
Tapeworm
95
Temazepam 46
Temperature
Chart 55
During cold water emersion 201
High
Delirium tremens 180
Malaria 106
Treatment
185
Typhoid 102
Typhus fever 114
Yellow fever 115
Normal 53
Rectal 53
Taking 53
Tendon injuries 191
Tepid sponging
185
Testicle(s)
Injury 154
Pain 153-4
Torsion 118, 153-4
Tetanus 73
Lockjaw 112
Protection
180
Tetracycline ointment (1'Yo) 118
Thigh bone shaft fractures 30
Threadworms
152-3
Thrush 195
Tic Douloureux
159
Tinea 176
Tinea pedis (athlete's foot) 95
Tingling
33
Tit juice conjunctivitis
191
Tonsillitis
167
Toothache
165-6
Toxic hazards 45
Transient ischaemic attack (TIA) 160
Transport of casualties 40-4
Triangularsling
12-13,28
Trichlorethylene
(trilene, trike) 49
Trichomoniasis
122-3
Trigeminal neuralgia
159
Trike see Trichlorethylene
49
Trilene 49
Trimethoprim
Bronchitis
135
Cystitis 156
Pyelitis 156
Tubal infection
145
Tubal pregnancy see also Ectopic
pregnancy
145
Tuberculosis 95, 113
Typhoic fever 85
Typhoid 59,102
Typhus fever 114
Ulcers 150-2
Umbilical cord, tie and cut 199
Unconscious patient
Chest injuries 39
Choking
18
General management
65
Head injury, care of 75
Moving 44
3 MUSTS 63
Treatment
15-16
Unconsciousness, diagnosis 64
Upper arm fractures
28
Upper eyelid eversion 79
Urethra 219
Urethral discharge 117-18
Urethritis
117-18
Complications
153
Urinary infection
144
Urinary system 219,224-5
Urination difficulty
204
Urine 219
Blood-stained
36
Examination
143
Retention
156-8
Testing 59-60
Glucose 173, 195
Protei n 132, 187
Urticaria
178, 181
Vaginal bleeding
196
Vaginal candidiasis
122
Vaginal discharge 122-3, 123, 194-5
Valium 46
Varicella 95, 97, 99
Varicose ulcer 133
Varicose veins 132
Vein 216
Venom, sucking 171
Ventilation
93
Viruses 95
Visual disturbances
132
Migraine
164
Voluntary muscles 215
Front 222
Rear 223
Vomited matter, examination of 60
Vomiting
Cholecystitis
145-6
Cholera 100
Coronary thrombosis
128-9
Dehydration
61
Drunkenness
179
Head injury 76
Inhalation
179
Lifeboat, in 204
Meningitis
107-8
Migraine
164
Peritonitis
150
Pregnancy induced 193
Sea sickness 188
Severe abdominal pain 138-41
Snake bites 171
.
Wasp sting 172
Water, fresh
Distribution system by superchlorination
86
Hoses 87-8
Taking water on board 88
Treatment by chlorine 88-9
Storage tanks 85-6
Disinfection
86 .
Water retention see also Oedema
132
Welder's flash 80
White cells 216
Whitlows
172,174
Whooping cough 114
Wind 137
Worms 59, 152-3
Wound(s)
Abdominal
24
Bullet 23
Chest 24
Classification
69
Face and jaw 25
Head 24
Healing 70
Infection
73
Metal fragments
23
Palm 25
Stitches, remova I of 73
Treatment
70-3
Wrist fractures
28
Yellow fever
85, 115
Zinc oxide
Ointment
143,175
Powder 166
Index by Dr Olivera Potparic