Standards of medical care on adventure holidays raise concerns

Standards of medical care and safety provided by tour operators on adventure holidays in remote mountainous regions of the world are called into question in this weeks BMJ.

Fionn Bellis, Specialist Registrar in Accident and Emergency Medicine, argues that although some companies provide their own medically trained staff, they may rely on doctors on holiday with the group to provide help.

Twice in the past year, she recalls treating fellow travellers with acute mountain sickness while on holiday - a common and potentially fatal condition if not treated correctly. In both cases the group leaders had exceeded the recommended rates of ascent, and the people concerned were unaware of the severity of the risks of travel to high altitude, says the author.

The public should be properly informed about the health and safety risks of certain destinations before departure, writes the author. Currently, neither Air Travel Organisers Licensing (ATOL) nor the Association of British Travel Agents provides guidance for this. The medical profession should also take a leading role in persuading travel companies to give their clients detailed information of the potential health risks of travel so that they can make informed decisions about whether to visit these destinations.

Adherence to standards of best medical and safety practice to prevent acute mountain sickness and other conditions should be mandatory for tour operators, she concludes.


Contact: Emma Wilkinson
BMJ-British Medical Journal

Page: 1

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