Diving Medicals

What is the purpose of a dive medical?

two women getting a scuba diving lesson

The Dive Medical focuses principally on cardiac, pulmonary and neurological conditions, and general health issues, that may put a diver at increased risk for decompression sickness, pulmonary over-inflation syndrome with subsequent arterial gas embolization, and other conditions such as loss of consciousness, which could lead to drowning.

The most common condition that will cause people to be declared medically unfit to dive is asthma. Studies have shown that asthma increases the risk of death during diving by 10-20 times. In Australia, it is standard practice to exclude asthmatics from diving even though some people may wish to voluntarily take this risk.

Other common conditions that can affect fitness to dive are problems with hearing, sinus infections and ear infections. These can be temporary and do not place the diver at increased risk of death, so generally a warning is made of the risks involved, including permanent hearing loss, after which the diver can make the final decision on whether to dive or not.

While we all like to enjoy ourselves underwater there are risks involved, especially for those with some medical conditions. The Australian Standards organisation, various state and federal regulators, together with the diving industry and representatives of recreational divers, have combined to put in place requirements and medical standards for SCUBA diving in Australia that are amongst the strictest in the world.

To undertake training with most diving operators, or to dive using their equipment, under their supervision, or on a dive they coordinate, they require you to have a Recreational SCUBA Diving Medical to Australian Standard 4005.1. Overseas medicals are not accepted unless they are equal or better than the AS4005.1 standard. When starting a diving course, the dive medical must be valid within 12 Months of starting a course or a new one is required.

Dive Medicals have an expiry date, and must be dated less than 12 months prior to diving.

We provide initial and annual recreational diving medicals, and manage medical conditions caused by diving.  These examinations and medical management are conducted by our experienced doctor (Dr Denis Chew) who has undertaken an approved course of training in underwater medicine and has been accredited.

In some cases, an ECG and chest X-ray may also be required.
For those with certain pre-existing medical conditions, it may be necessary for the examining doctor to speak with either your general practitioner or specialist.

If you have asthma or a significant medical condition, please advise the reception staff at the time of requesting an appointment so that a preliminary appointment can be made with the doctor to determine whether or not additional medical investigations may be required before undertaking your diving medical examination.

Recreational Dive Medical Examination consists of:

  • Completion of a medical questionnaire regarding past and current health
  • A physical examination
  • A urine analysis
  • An assessment of your vision
  • An assessment of lung function
  • An assessment of hearing