||Heikki Saarni, Leena Niemi
||Finnish Institute of Occupational Health
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When a vessel somewhere in the middle of the ocean, it is very difficult to get a doctor on board or to transport the ill or injured patient ashore. So, the success of the medical treatment depends on the medical know-how and treatment facilities available on board. The Master is officially responsible for the treatment given to people on board the ship. The crew's level of medical training is determined by the national and international regulations like STCW 95. In addition, the ship has necessary medical equipment. The international Radio Medical system was developed to compensate for the lack of well-trained medical staff on board. Via the service system of Radio Medical, a doctor on shore can be consulted free of charge. Improved telecommunication systems have facilitated direct contact between the crew and the shipping company's occupational health service or, for example, a designated health care facility. It is crucial that the person in charge of treatment on board is capable of recognizing the patient's symptoms and of following the patient's condition. Without these skills, describing the patient's condition to Radio Medical's doctor on land will not be successful. The Radio Medical system has been used in seafaring already for a hundred years. Video transmission, made possible by modern telecommunications technology, is not expected to significantly change the basic situation of on-board treatment. All the treatment given on board depends first and foremost on the know-how of the crew members. The equipment on board and even the finest communication technology are only complementary.