Last week, we talked about how the contracts established between cruise ship doctors, the cruise lines and passengers can lead to medical treatment for passengers – and crew members – that is severely under par in our blog: Should Cruise Lines Be Held Liable for Their Onboard Doctor’s Medical Malpractice Incidents? Part 1.
Cruise lines try to save money by hiring foreign doctors to help sick and injured victims on their ships, and to top that off, allow severely underpaid and overworked physicians to make all the calls regarding their patients, which can lead to medical malpractice. Additionally, cruise lines often don’t even technically “hire” doctors as crew members. Instead, they are hired as “independent contractors”.
We also discussed how one of my clients, Elizabeth Carlisle, was denied the proper care she needed for her condition – a ruptured appendix – because the doctor onboard the ship she was sailing on misdiagnosed her. As a result, she suffered permanent injuries. But the cruise line, in this case Carnival, was not held liable for the doctor’s actions because the doctor wasn’t technically a crew member. Since he wasn’t a crew member, his negligent actions couldn’t come back to haunt Carnival, despite the fact that Carnival hired him in the first place.
Now, a new case involving a cruise ship doctor’s medical malpractice has rocked the maritime industry. But the worst part isn’t even the actual malpractice, but a judge’s ruling on the matter that’s really astounding.