Incidence of Decompression Illness in Scientific Diving

Scientific diving is generally held as one of the safest forms of diving. The purpose of this study was to determine the rate of decompression illness (DCI) associated with scientific diving activity by reviewing records maintained by the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS). A review of 10 years of AAUS diving resulted in 33 cases of DCI in 1,019,159 scientific dives (0.324/10,000 person-dives).

This study was completed in 2012.

AAUS was formed in 1982 and the organizational membership constitutes the largest single collection of organizations with scientific diving programs in the United States. Since organizational members submit annual summaries of both diving activity and related accidents/incidents, meaningful incidences and risk estimates can be established. The number of scientific dives submitted annually is approximately 100,000; the number of incidents, rare, but with some in most years.

After reviewing 10 years of activity and incident records reported to the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS), this study reported a total of 1,019,159 scientific dives included 33 cases of decompression illness (DCI), yielding an incidence rate was 0.324/10,000 person-dives, substantially lower than the 0.9-35.3/10,000 rates published for recreational, instructional/guided, commercial and/or military diving.

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