Scuba diving can be enjoyed by people with a wide range of abilities. That said, there are aspects of diving that require a minimum level of health and fitness. Entering and exiting the water can require intense physical exertion, and divers must be fit enough to rescue themselves or a buddy in an emergency.
Diver Medical | Participant Questionnaire
The Diver Medical Participant Questionnaire is a set of unified standards established to provide consistency in the minimum health standards required for training scuba divers. Prior to the implementation of the medical form, fitness standards varied widely. The dive medical form was recently updated to address COVID-19 with input from DAN, PADI, WRSTC, RSTC, UHMS and dive-medicine professionals to improve safety and prevent accidents.
Today, some divers view this questionnaire in a negative light, believing it serves only to bar them from diving if they answer “yes” to any of the questions. This is not the case at all.
The questionnaire serves to help divers and dive operators avoid emergency situations. It enables divers with relative contraindications to diving to realize this and seek the help of their physician to make adaptations so they can scuba dive safely. This questionnaire also provides doctors and emergency responders with pertinent medical information that will be useful if a diver gets injured and cannot speak for themselves.
Unfortunately, Divers Alert Network® (DAN®) receives too many accident reports in which the diver omitted information from their dive medical statement. Dishonesty on the dive medical questionnaire benefits no one. In addition to putting the diver and their buddy in danger, it can delay appropriate medical care.
Avoid Temptation by Planning Ahead
After spending a great deal of time and money planning an experience, people do not want to risk missing it. Lying or omitting information on a medical form can be tempting for divers on holiday who do not want to forgo their dives, but this temptation can be prevented by downloading the dive medical form and completing it well in advance of travel and visiting a physician regarding any “yes” answers.
It is the responsibility of the diver to prepare for diving activities, including getting cleared by a doctor if necessary.
Receiving clearance to dive promotes safe and comfortable diving, and it does not have to be difficult. Remember that instructors, divemasters or dive shop personnel are not physicians and should not be asked for medical advice; only medical professionals can give medical clearance to dive.
Divers can be cleared to dive in conjunction with an annual check-up or on a visit to receive travel immunizations. This clearance is typically valid for about a year, but divers should seek re-evaluation if any significant changes occur, such as receiving a new diagnosis or starting a new medication. Additionally, divers aged 45 or older who are currently receiving medical care, have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, a family history of heart attack or stroke, or use tobacco products must receive a doctor’s approval to scuba dive.
Medical professionals do not commonly specialize in dive medicine, so some may be uncomfortable or unwilling to give someone clearance to dive. Fortunately DAN has a network of more than 600 physicians who specialize in dive medicine, and one call to the DAN Medical Information Line (+1-919-684-2948) can put divers in contact with a dive-medicine-trained doctor who can evaluate them. Calling the DAN Medical Information Line is also useful for physicians who are willing to evaluate divers —our in-house medical information specialists can answer their questions conveniently over the phone. Further inquiries about fitness to dive or documentation can be answered via DAN’s Ask a Medic online form.
Being truthful on a diving medical form is crucial for everyone involved, and DAN’s resources make it easy to dive safely and comfortably.