Quite often that when you go diving you are asked to sign some forms. Some of those forms are liability release forms that all dive operators/instructors ask you to sign. And sometimes you will be asked to complete and sign a medical form.
This medical form can be seen as an invasion of privacy by some but it is a necessary part of keeping the scuba diving industry safe. By lying on the form you are basically saying that you are OK to dive and that you are happy with any consequences that happen.
As an instructor I have to protect myself. Taking someone who is physically unable to be in the underwater environment is a danger to myself and to the student diver that I am leading.
So what should you do?
It’s quite easy actually. If you know that you have a medical condition that might cause you to have problems when diving then make sure that you see your physician or doctor before you travel. Usually most medical forms are valid for a year from when they are done. So hit up this link and download the medical form, do this before you book your trip and make sure that your doctor clears you to dive. Some places like Malta, require a completed medical form if you wish to go diving. Other places like the Bahamas have a statement in their liability waiver that says “I acknowledge that I am physically fit to scuba dive and snorkel and I will not hold the dive shop responsible if I am injured as a result of heart problems, lung problems, or other illnesses or medical problems which occur while diving and/or snorkeling.” However, if you are going to be doing any form of training then you will be asked to complete a form like the one above.
What if my instructor encourages me to lie?
If your instructor or another person encourages you to lie on the dive form then I would ask for my money back and not dive with that organisation again. I would also report them to their governing body. They are putting you and others’ lives at risk by asking you to lie. When I was doing my PADI IDC there were sessions given that covered this. We are explicitly told that we cannot encourage our student to lie on the form. If an instructor is encouraging you then it is a violation of the standards that they have agreed to uphold.
It is important to fill in the documentation correctly. I am in the fortunate position where I get to choose my students, and that means that I spend a lot of time making sure that they are prepared for the course they are about to take. I usually give them a pack that contains all the forms that they need and I say the following about the medical form:
You need to complete the following medical form. Make sure that you read it carefully. Answer each of the questions with the words YES or NO, you must write the full word. If some of your answers are YES then before we can go diving you must go to a doctor and be checked so that you are medically cleared to dive.
There are several doctors on the island here that are familiar with scuba diving medicine and if there own doctor isn’t I can point them in the direction of someone who will be able to help them. If a student has a YES on their form I won’t take them diving unless they have been signed off by a doctor. At no point in time would I ever encourage them to lie on their form and write NO. It’s just not worth the risk.
DAN has a fantastic article on whether to lie or not on a medical form, not to spoil the ending but it is obvious that you should NOT lie on any medical form.