BHB Hyperbaric Service Passes International Safety Assessment

Divers Alert Network Endorses KEMH as a Preferred Provider

Bermuda Hospitals Board today announces that the Hyperbaric Medicine Department at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital (KEMH), which treats patients with a range of complex wounds as well as divers who suffer from ‘the bends’, has passed an International Risk Assessment on the hyperbaric chamber and its systems. The Divers Alert Network (DAN) has recognised the BHB and department of hyperbaric medicine for achieving a certificate of full compliance with the high standards required for this assessment. Based upon their performance, DAN fully endorses this facility as a preferred provider.

Hyperbaric medicine, also known as hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), is the medical use of oxygen within a pressurized chamber at levels greater than atmospheric (sea level) pressure. This can help in the treatment of decompression sickness and air embolism. It also helps wounds to heal by increasing the amount of oxygen in the blood and tissues of the body.

Dr Edward Schultz, Chief of Emergency and Hyperbaric Medicine, comments: “We are proud of our hyperbaric chamber and very pleased that we can demonstrate the quality of our service to the community by passing an independent International Risk Assessment. Alongside its use for decompression illness, Hyperbaric Medicine can sometimes help people with complex wounds, for example people who have diabetic ulcers. It can have a dramatic impact on the healing process and reduce the incidence of amputations for some patients. It is an important treatment to be able to offer at an international standard in Bermuda.”

Daniel Gericke, Safety Officer for the Hyperbaric Chamber, comments: “This is a great achievement for the team and important for diving in Bermuda. Being accredited as a preferred provider by DAN means that tourists can feel safe coming to Bermuda to dive, and we become part of DAN’s referral network for anyone who suffers a decompression illness. As such diseases are exacerbated by flying, should a diver become ill in mid-flight while travelling over the Atlantic they could be diverted to our facility if we were the closest approved facility. This places our service in Bermuda on the international map.”

The assessment was carried out by Mr Francois Burman, an expert in hyperbaric chamber safety, and author of the Hyperbaric Risk Assessment Guide. Policies and procedures relating to the hyperbaric chamber, as well as a check on required maintenance schedules and the qualification level of staff were all reviewed as part of the assessment.

Mr Burman comments: “This is an extremely thorough, internationally-recognised assessment and I congratulate the Hyperbaric Medicine Team at KEMH on passing. I was impressed by their dedication and commitment to ensure the highest standards of care and safety are followed.”

The Divers Alert Network is the largest international diving safety organisation dedicated to assisting divers in need. Most divers are covered by DAN for decompression related injuries, and as a preferred provider, DAN would direct members to Bermuda for hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Dr Nick Bird, Chief Executive Officer of DAN, comments: “We are very pleased to endorse hyperbaric services at KEMH and to recognize them as a preferred provider for the treatment of decompression illness. Such injuries are rare amongst divers, but can result in life-long disability or death if untreated. It will give divers in Bermuda great confidence in the local service, and means there is another option in our international network for any member who falls sick.”


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