THE DIVE PRO HUB
THE NEW PADI MEDICAL FORM
UPDATED JUNE 2020
PADI always tell us that paperwork has saved the ass of many dive pros over the years. Should the unthinkable ever happen to you, having your i's dotted and t's crossed on your forms is a sign of a prudent instructor.
Now that we're about to start taking students in the water again, let's look at the new PADI medical form that was updated in June 2020.
THE NEW PADI MEDICAL FORM
Is PADI paperwork the bane of your life?! Maybe I'm a bit weird... I actually quite like it! Love it or loathe it, I'm sure you're very familiar with getting your student divers to complete the RSTC Medical Statement (aka the PADI Medical Statement) when they start a course.
That document has been in use for more than 30 years and after all the COVID carry on, the powers that be decided that it was time for a revamp (I just think they were bored because they were locked down and needed something to do).
Turns out that although that 30-year-old form still works, medical thinking has advanced and we're all a little bit concerned about COVID-19 and how it might affect divers. So, there is a new screening protocol: 2020 Diver Medical Participant Questionnaire and it's recommended you begin using immediately. Go download it from the PADI Pros’ Site.
The new system has three familiar components:
- The Diver Medical Participant Questionnaire is completed by the diver.
- The Diver Medical Physician’s Evaluation Form is the bit where the doctor signs to say that the diver is fit to dive (if they needed to go down that route).
- The Diving Medical Guidance to the Physician is a peer reference for docs seeking additional information regarding how specific conditions relate to diving.
SO, WHAT'S DIFFERENT?
The document itself looks completely different to the old form. It's not just a simple yes/no answer, it's a bit like an old dungeons and dragons adventure book. You know the one, you reach a fork in the road, to turn left go to page 42 to turn right go to page 79.
Let me try and explain what I mean...
If the diver is over 45 years of age, they'll have to tick "yes" to this question. But that doesn't send them automatically to their GP. It says "go to Box B"
If they answer "yes" to any of the questions in Box B, only then do they need to seek their physician's approval. See the little asterisk? If they answer yes to a question with one of those, it's doctor time.
This two-step approach allows greater precision in identifying who needs to see a doctor. You'll have lots of students who don't even need to go further than the first page. If they answer “no” to them all, they don’t need the doc.
This avoids “form fatigue”. There were a massive 34 questions on the old form - how many of your students get sick of reading halfway through and just quickly tick without thinking.
DID THE QUESTIONS CHANGE?
Many of the statements have subtly changed if you compare the RSTC Medical Statement to the new system.
They've been tweaked to make sure that individuals most at risk are identified and sent to the doctor.
It works the other way too. The number of times I've had to send a student to their GP because they ticked something necessarily (like that one time when someone ticked "yes" to behavioural problems and wrote "frightened of fish...." next to it). This new form helps reduce this problem by better helping identify those who don't need to go to the doc.
Did you spot the 2 questions that have been removed?
- Previous DCI - The experts who designed the questionnaire decided that this was not a valuable question in itself. They felt that the important thing was if the DCI had caused other lasting effects on the person and that if any of these had been of significance, they would be identified by one of the other questions on the form.
- Pregnancy - It's been replaced by a statement at the start of the form “If you are pregnant, or attempting to become pregnant, do not dive.” Pretty self-explanatory!
And there's 2 more things that disappeared:
- The bit that used to let the doc write notes - In the past, doctors have sometimes made the well-intentioned mistake of adding limitations in the comments box. Something like “this person can only dive to 10 metres." Since the medical community considers conditional medicals as unacceptable, this box was removed from the new PADI medical form to discourage doctors from doing this. I've certainly had instances where my student has trotted off to the doctors and came back with a form with this kind of comment. I'm disappointed because I know I can't use it and they're doubly disappointed because they can't get started on their training AND they paid their doctor for that form!
- The 4 pages of doctor's notes - This is definitely great news to my printer because I've lost count of the times I've printed those out by accidents when I just wanted to first 2 pages. There's now a more in-depth set of notes for doctors - it's 12 pages long and can be found on the UHMS website by following the link on the form.
WHAT'S THE COVID CRAIC?
The new PADI medical includes questions about being previously diagnosed as having COVID-19.
If student divers answer "yes", then off to the doc they go. I don't think anyone really understands the full implications of COVID on diving yet. The doctors notes bit contains extensive information about the disease and has loads of links to resources that get updated as more becomes known about it. But GPs are twitchy about signing medical forms at the best of times so until more research is done, I think students are going to need to be patient if they're in this situation.
AND DON'T FORGET
All your students have to fill in this new PADI medical form. But if they need to be signed off from the doc, it doesn't necessarily have to be on this particular form. A letter works, as does their HSE Annual medical if they have one. The only requirements is that it says the individual "is fit to scuba dive".