A cruise ship emergency medical evacuation triggered by handheld ultrasound findings and directed by tele-ultrasound

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



International Maritime Health








Cruise ship medical evacuation; Ectopic pregnancy; Point-of-care ultrasound; Tele-ultrasound


© 2020 PSMTTM. Cruise ships travel far from shoreside medical care and present a unique austere medical environment. For the cruise ship physician, decisions regarding emergency medical evacuation can be challenging. In the event that a passenger or crew member becomes seriously ill or is injured, the use of point-of-care ultrasound may assist in clarifying the diagnosis and stratifying the risk of a delayed care, and at times expedite an emergent medical evacuation. In this report we present the first case reported in the literature of an emergency medical evacuation from a cruise ship triggered by handheld ultrasound. A point-of-care ultrasound performed by a trained cruise ship physician, reviewed by a remote telemedical consultant with experience in point-of-care ultrasound, identified an ectopic pregnancy with intraabdominal free fluid in a young female patient with abdominal pain and expedited emergent helicopter evacuation from a cruise ship to a shoreside facility, where she immediately underwent successful surgery. The case highlights a medical evacuation that was accurately triggered by utilising a handheld ultrasound and successfully directed via a tele-ultrasound consultation. American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) health care guidelines for cruise ship medical facilities should be updated to include guidelines for point-of-care ultrasound, including training and telemedical support.

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