Yale docs report first results from seafarer health study

FEBRUARY 11, 2013 — Yale University Occupational and Environmental Medicine Program and Future Care, Inc. have reported the initial results of a pilot study on the health of seafarers internationally.

Future Care's services include managed care services for the marine industry and the study makes use of an extensive database drawn from Future Care's Caring for the Crew program. Its focus has been on injury and acute illness in seamen, a unique group for which there are few published studies.

In a presentation at the Union League Club in New York City, Dr. Carrie Redlich, Professor of Medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine and Program and Clinical Director of the Yale Occupational and Environmental Medicine Program, and Marty Slade, MPH, Director of Research of the Yale Occupational and Environmental Medicine Program, presented their findings based on the analysis of Future Care data documenting 6,724 cases of illness and injury over a span of four years.

Results were analyzed based on a number of variables, including age, rank, nationality and type of illness/injury. Average costs per case and type of medical incident were also presented, along with statistics on resource utilization and type of medical care rendered.

Among the findings presented:

  • Illness and dental claims comprised 66.7% of the total.
  • Illness claims alone, as distinguished from injury claims, accounted for almost half of all medical events (49.8%) with an associated direct cost of $18.5 million, 56.4% of the total direct costs of $32.8 million.
  • Cardiovascular disease, while accounting for only 4.1% of claims, had an associated direct cost of $5.7 million (17.3% of total direct costs.)
  • With regard to point of service, hospital admissions accounted for only 2.4% of all medical encounters, but 56.8% of all medical expenses.

"We are pleased with the progress of this important study," said Dr. Redlich. "The results of this project should provide a sound basis for the development of better strategies to reduce and better treat injuries and illnesses to seafarers while at the same time reducing the health care costs to the maritime industry.”

Christina DeSimone, CEO of Future Care, Inc. commented, “I am confident that this joint effort will assist in policy development and health prevention strategies for the maritime industry, which will benefit seafarers worldwide.”

These preliminary findings led to lively exchange of ideas and raised questions regarding strategies for risk management and prevention of illness and injury onboard. Some of the industry’s opinion leaders presented their views and experiences in an interesting discussion which followed the presentation.

Attending the Union League Club presentation were Mr. Gerry Buchanan, President of Genco Shipping, and a representative from China Shipping Lines, representing commercial blue water vessels operations and management for over 300 vessels. Representatives of P&I Clubs Thomas Miller/UK Club, The Standard Club, and Skuld were also present.