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Cruise ship medical malpractice sees new precedent set

Going on a cruise is one way that some Pennsylvania residents might choose to relax. Being out on the open water, participating in activities while underway and going into the beautiful ports of call might sound like a lot of fun. There is, however, one aspect of going on a cruise that some of our readers might not have thought about. That aspect is medical care while underway.

When you are on a ship, you can't seek references for the doctors who will treat you. Instead, you have to rely on the doctors on the ship to take care of you. In many cases, those medical professionals do an amazing job at keeping passengers as safe and healthy as possible. There are other cases in which medical staff members misdiagnose passengers or don't provide them with an acceptable standard of care.

In the past, when a passenger didn't receive proper care onboard a ship, there was little they could do. Cruise ship medical personnel have long been considered immune from medical malpractice complaints because of Barbetta v. Bermuda Star.

A recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit is changing that precedent. The decision by the court takes into account the medical advances that now makes better medical care onboard ships possible. This is seemingly the first time that the Barbetta v. Bermuda Star ruling has been rejected. Other cases seeking to do just that haven't succeeded.

Anyone who has suffered injuries because of substandard care on a cruise ship has the right to seek compensation for those injuries. With this latest ruling against the cruise industry, getting the compensation they deserve might be a little easier for cruise ship passengers harmed by medical negligence or medical malpractice.

Source: Travel Weekly, "Ruling increases cruise lines’ exposure to medical lawsuits" Tom Stieghorst, Nov. 23, 2014

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