Several cruise ship accidents and injuries have been in the news recently, many of which have involved sick or injured passengers being airlifted off their vessels. But the latest cruise ship incident has gotten a little more attention than most. That’s because the victim was no ordinary passenger; it was the founder of Amazon himself, Jeff Bezos.
The e-commerce mogul was flown via helicopter off a ship sailing in the Galapagos Islands after he suffered intense pain stemming from a kidney stone on Jan. 1. Authorities say a medical team from the Ecuadorian Navy was sent to the ship to examine Bezos, and they found the kidney stone was causing the problem. That’s when the emergency evacuation was called in.
Bezos was airlifted from the ship on New Year’s Day. He was taken to Santa Cruz port, then to Baltra Island, where his private jet was waiting to transport him to the U.S. Bezos did not require surgery and is now recovering from his treatment and doing well.
Not the best way to ring in the New Year, but at least medical attention was sought ON TIME and Bezos was able to obtain the assistance he needed from experienced doctors.
Our cruise ship accident lawyers here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. have seen far too many travelers who are sick or injured experience even more pain or exacerbated symptoms because either the captain of their vessel refused to seek emergency help for them or because the onboard doctor was completely inept at treating them.
There have been times when patients were even misdiagnosed and suffered extreme consequences, including death! Recently, a case regarding a Royal Caribbean passenger surfaced that prompted our attorneys to discuss cruise ship doctors, their practices and what they should be held accountable for in the event of malpractice.
The victim in this case, who was sailing on the Oasis of the Seas back in 2010, began to experience intense abdominal pain, much the way Bezos did. She was treated by the physician onboard the ship, who diagnosed her with gastritis and gave her the appropriate meds for that particular illness. The problem would have been fixed, had the victim actually had gastritis. Instead, she had a severe abdominal infection and because she was misdiagnosed and wasn’t given the correct treatment, she ended up suffering multiple organ failure, sepsis and a cerebral hemorrhage.
This terrible tragedy could have been avoided had the victim received the proper medical attention, but BOTH the ship’s doctor and captain refused to allow the victim to be evacuated to the nearest hospital.
We’re glad Bezos was able to get the help he needed, but let’s face it, his wealth probably played a big role in the entire evacuation. He has his own plane he can use to get back to the U.S. and get the treatment he needs, but the same can’t be said for most passengers. The rest of us are stuck doing whatever those in charge allow us to do, even if it means we may suffer terrible medical consequences.
In the end, it all boils down to money. It would have been quite a law suit for the cruise line if the Ecuadorian doctors weren’t called out to help. Not to mention the bad press that would begin to circulate.
For those of us who have neither immense fortunes nor a huge reputation, there’s an uphill battle that will almost always have to be faced when getting a cruise line to respond responsibly so medical attention can be obtained. Though all cruise lines should act quickly when a passenger presents severe symptoms, there are far too many people who go undiagnosed, misdiagnosed or who are completely ignored and thus, become even sicker.
Hopefully the New Year brings with it a new perspective for the cruise industry, one of increased safety and regard for the well-being of passengers.