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Georgia woman tells news outlets how Carnival Cruise Ship left her stranded and sedated in Dominican Republic hospital with no way of getting home

Basking in the sun or heading to a cholesterol-raising buffet for the fourth time in a single morning, no one thinks about the dangers aboard cruise ships. Statistics show, however, that cruises are riddled with all kinds of hazards. From sexual assaults to falls resulting in broken bones or requiring surgery, Leesfield & Partners has represented just about every injury aboard these massive holiday vessels. 

When stories are spread in the media about cruise medical care and its often devastating consequences, Leesfield & Partners attorneys know that it is unfortunately not all that uncommon. Some people simply do not receive the care they require while others are left to suffer from illnesses or injuries because a cruise doctor refuses to evacuate them. In some cases, cruise ships will abandon a sick passenger in a foreign country to continue on its journey with the other passengers. This is much like the case of an elderly passenger represented by the law firm who suffered a hemorrhagic stroke. This type of stroke, according to the National Institute of Health, is a bleeding in the brain caused by a ruptured blood vessel. The passenger was able to disembark from the ship in the Bahamas for emergency transfer back to Broward County, Florida. The cruise line never verified that the airport would be open and the woman was left to wait at the closed airport where she died waiting to be transferred.  

Fortunately for a grandmother heading to the Bahamas on a Carnival Cruise Ship, the outcome was very different. 

What Happened? 

A woman from Atlanta, Georgia found out just how deep the inadequacies in cruise ship medical facilities go when her lung collapsed on a cruise, according to WSB-TV Atlanta. The woman, identified as 64-year-old Loretta Cox, was on her way to the Bahamas with her husband when she began to have difficulty breathing. The two boarded the cruise on Monday and, by Tuesday, Cox’s lungs had filled with fluid. Her daughter told a reporter that her mother was walking back to her cabin when she collapsed and had to be helped by two teenagers who called for medics. Cruise ship doctors put her on a ventilator on board before dropping her off at a hospital in the Dominican Republic where doctors declined her American insurance.

To get back to the United States, the family was told they would have to raise $23,000 for an air ambulance. Within days of reaching news outlets and setting up a donation fund, Cox was able to be taken to Florida where doctors said her lungs had collapsed. She was sedated and on a ventilator until at least Tuesday, according to local reporting. Back in her hometown recovering, Cox’s story is a miracle as many other passengers suffering a medical emergency on these ships are not so lucky. 

Case History

As one of the top personal injury law firms in Florida and around the nation, Leesfield & Partners has been privy to every branch of injury that can take place aboard a ship. With Port Miami – the largest passenger port in the world – as its backyard, the law firm is just one of several local avenues for injured passengers to seek justice. Last year, Port Miami attracted 7,299,294 passengers to the area from all over the world, according to reporting from NBC 6 South Florida. This is an almost 7% increase from numbers prior to COVID-19, the virus that caused 350,831 deaths in the United States and a monthslong shutdown of the cruise industry in 2020.

Medical malpractice of staff aboard ships is just one practice area that the law firm has seen repeatedly over the years. The negligent care of doctors purported to be leaders in their field operating with a state-of-the-art facility are often not up to par with United States standards, some are not even licensed to practice medicine in the United States. In addition to licensing issues, the motive for cruise doctors is often aligned with the ship’s. This means doing everything in their power to divert course or refusing evacuations for patients who are in dire need. This gap in experience, motive, education and licensing often results in further harm being done to passengers either via misdiagnosis or by administering the wrong medication and they can have lasting consequences. 

An infant from the United Kingdom was on her first cruise when she was misdiagnosed by cruise ship doctors with a stomach bug when she had meningitis. Due to the medical staff not recognizing the signs of the infant’s illness, she was not given the antibacterial medication she needed and became a triple amputee from the incident. Leesfield & Partners attorneys representing the family were able to obtain a multi-million settlement. 

Another man who was an employee aboard a cruise ship suffering from nausea was given the maximum dose of a medication while his doctor googled his symptoms to figure out a proper route for care. The man was given promethazine hydrochloride, a drug used to treat ailments such as motion sickness and vomiting. Against standard procedure, which calls for the drug to be given by injecting it deep into the muscle very slowly over the course of two minutes, the drug was administered through the man’s IV all at once. The doctor who ordered the drug be given to the man refused to consider evacuating him when his right arm began to show signs of necrosis and erythema, a reddening of the skin. The man was allowed to get off the ship a day after his first symptoms to receive medical treatment when the ship docked at Port Canaveral where doctors worked to save his arm. Days later, it was determined that it had to be amputated. Via arbitration, Leesfield & Partners attorneys achieved a $3,337,500 reward for the man’s injuries. 

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