One of the dangers which cruise passengers face is incompetent medical care provided by non-U.S. doctors and nurses. And when these go wrong in the high seas, most cruise passengers don’t realize that the cruise lines are not legally responsible for the malpractice of the cruise ship medical team.
One of our ten most outrageous cruise stories last year focused on the extraordinary steps the cruise lines take to avoid responsibility when cruise ship doctors maim or kill cruise passengers. I also suggest reading: If The Ship Doctor Kills You, Too Bad.
Tomorrow at the Senate hearing on cruise safety there will testimony that it took 15 minutes before cruise ship medical employees arrived after Armada Butler’s 51 year old mother collapsed during a cruise aboard the Carnival Conquest. In a NBC Channel 6 interview, Amanda said it took even longer to get inside the closed medical facility on the ship where the defibrillator was located.
The family flew Ms. Butler from the Cayman Islands (where she was medically disembarked) to the Ryder Trauma Center in Miami via private jet, but she died two weeks later
Local cruise celebrity Stewart Chiron defended the industry, telling NBC 6 "It looks like in some cases, persons are upset about certain responses . . . but you see the same types in complaints on shore."
But unlike shore-side cases where doctors commit malpractice, the cruise lines are largely immune from legal liability arising out of the malpractice of the cruise ship doctors. Without legal and financial consequences, cruise lines like Carnival have little incentive to voluntarily invest in better medical facilities or more experienced and trained doctors and nurses.
Tomorrow Amanda Butler will discuss the circumstances surrounding her mother’s death at the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing titled “The Cruise Passenger Protection Act (S.1340): Improving Consumer Protections for Cruise Passengers.”
The hearing will take place tomorrow, Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 2:45 p.m. at the 253 Russell Senate Office Building in Washington D.C.
The hearing will be webcast live via the Senate Commerce Committee website. Be sure to click on the link and watch the hearing.
November 11, 2014 Update: Breaking News! Cruise passengers are now permitted to sue the cruise lines for medical negligence. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that cruise lines are no longer permitted to assert an "immunity defense" when their ship doctors and nurses commit medical malpractice. Read: 11th Circuit Rejects Cruise Lines’ Immunity Defense to Medical Malpractice Claims. Contact us for further information.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Derek Kastner