Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Carmel on the Case: Cruise Blues
It's vacation time, and that means millions of people will take cruises, but before you hit the high seas, you might want to make sure your ship has the medical staff to keep you ship shape if you get sick on board. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
WSVN -- Iris Cortina took a cruise to Mexico with her grandparents to celebrate their retirement, but their dream trip turned into a nightmare.
Iris Cortina: "It was really bad, it was really bad."
Her grandmother, Caridad, slipped and fell and fractured her left arm, but something else seemed to be going on.
Iris Cortina: "Saturday night, she fainted, she urinated blood, she just wasn't acting like herself anymore."
The family wanted her off the ship.
Iris Cortina: "You know, the captain said 'no.'"
The next day, Iris' grandmother died. An autopsy revealed Caridad Cruz died of a brain embolism probably due to her fall.
Iris Cortina: "They were not equipped, they were not equipped."
The family has filed a lawsuit against the cruise line not because the grandmother fell but because she wasn't taken off the ship for treatment after the fall. The family's attorney says medical care on cruise ships should meet a higher standard.
Charles Lipcon: "They get doctors from other countries for the most part, and their medical system is not on par for what we would expect under our medical care system."
But many people cruise each year without any medical problems. The Cruise Line International Association tells Seven News: "Members strive to ensure on-board medical facilities are well equipped and capably staffed, and, when necessary, treat patients for a variety of conditions and situations."
Sandra Hajtman: "My symptoms were abdominal pain, and I felt very bloated."
Sandra Hajtman got sick on a cruise but says she couldn't even get in to see the doctor.
Sandra Hajtman: "I said, 'I want to see a doctor. Am I going to see a doctor?' They told me, 'No, you're not going to see the doctor. You are quarantined to your room.'"
She says a nurse diagnosed her with the Norwalk Virus, but when she got worse, the Coast Guard had to rescue her by air.
Sandra Hajtman: "I came very close to dying about three times."
Turns out Sandra's body was rejecting an antibiotic, which was causing all of her organs to shut down.
Iris Cortina: "I really don't want this to happen to anyone else."
Carmel Cafiero: "We never plan on getting sick, especially on vacation, so it's smart to check with your doctor, check your medical insurance for coverage for emergency evacuations and ask questions of your cruise line before you set sail."
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