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New Medical Screening System For Divers

A new diver medical screening system was released in June 2020.  The new system was developed by the Diver Medical Screen Committee, a group of diving and hyperbaric medical experts, in association with the Undersea & Hyperbaric Medical Society Diving Committee (UHMS), the Divers Alert Network (DAN), and the Hyperbaric Medicine Division, University of California, San Diego, USA.

You can check out these links for the new Diver Medical Form and the Diving Medical Guidance for the Physician, or access them anytime on the Lahaina Divers website, in the lower right footer section.

The new system has three components:

  1. Diver Medical Participant Questionnaire is completed by the diving candidate.
  2. Diver Medical Physician’s Evaluation Form is completed by the physician evaluating the diving candidate for diving suitability when a physician’s approval to dive is necessary.
  3. Diving Medical Guidance to the Physician is a peer reference for physicians seeking additional information regarding how specific conditions relate to diving.

Although the old RSTC Diving Medical questionnaire is just a single page, it actually has 34 questions on it. The new system works in a two-step way: On page one there are just 10 questions. Most of the questions ask about related issues; for example, Question 1 says, “I have had problems with my lungs/breathing, heart, blood, or have been diagnosed with COVID-19.” If the diver said “yes” to that question, they would then be directed to Box A on the next page, where they are then asked five more detailed, specific questions about their condition. If they answer “yes” to any of these, they will need to get a physician’s approval to dive.

This two-step approach allows greater precision in identifying who needs to see a physician. Many people will probably only need to answer the 10 questions on the first page – if they say “no” to them all, they don’t even have to look at page two and they don’t need a medical examination. This is an advantage as it avoids the “form fatigue” that completing 34 questions can cause.

Many of the questions have subtly changed if you compare the RSTC Medical to the new system. This is designed to ensure that individuals most at risk are identified and sent to see a physician. On the other hand, many questions have been refined so that people are not sent unnecessarily to a physician. For example, in the old RSTC Medical Statement, the person is asked if they have ever had “recurrent back problems” Many people have had back problems at some point in their lives that may be completely resolved now, but they would still be sent to a physician. The issue is dealt with in the new system with the question, “I have /have had recurrent back problems in the last 6 months that limit my everyday activity.”

The 2020 Diver Medical Participant Questionnaire has the DAN, RSTC and UHMS logos on it. For clarity, a PADI® logo has not been added as PADI has no ownership of the document.

The 2020 Diver Medical Participant Questionnaire replaces the PADI Medical Statement, wherever PADI Standards require its use.