Scuba diving does involve some risk and some medical conditions can make the risk of death higher. Hence, the regulations and medical standards relating to diving in Australia are amongst the strictest in the world.
Because of the strict requirements of these standards, and the consequences of not adhering to them, all recreational diving operators require that certain types of divers have an AS 4005.1 compliant dive medical carried out before diving with them. This is particularly the case for Open Water dive courses,Advance dive courses, and situations where a diver has indicated in their Medical Questionnaire that they have a medical issue that is contraindicative to diving.
Dive Medicals have an expiry date, and must be dated less than 12 months prior to diving.
The Dive Medical focuses principally on cardiac, pulmonary and neurological conditions, and general health issues, that may put a diver at increased risk for decompression sickness, and other conditions such as loss of consciousness, which could lead to drowning.
The most common condition that will cause people to be declared medically unfit to dive is Bronchial Asthma. Studies have shown that asthma increases the risk of death during diving by 10-20 times. In Australia, it is standard practice to exclude asthmatics from diving even though some people may wish to voluntarily take this risk.
Other common conditions that can affect fitness to dive are problems with hearing, sinus infections and ear infections. These can be temporary and do not place the diver at increased risk of death, so generally a warning is made of the risks involved, including permanent hearing loss, after which the diver can make the final decision on whether to dive or not.
The Dive Medical is basically an assessment of the ability of the diver to survive unexpected underwater or on-surface emergencies, and the risk of death, unconsciousness, impaired judgement, disorientation, impaired mobility, or decompression sickness that may be associated with diving with a particular condition or disorder.
An AS4005-1 dive medical examination will cost $150. The Dive Medical cannot be claimed under Medicare.
Click here to download the Medical Questionnaire and complete prior your appointment with the doctor.