Mortality rate during professionally guided scuba diving experiences for uncertified divers, 1992-2019
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Background: The aim of this study is to re-examine the mortality rate among Professional Association of Diving Instructors’ (PADI)’s Discover Scuba Diving (DSD) program. A secondary aim was to investigate if the proportion of fatalities that were assessed as caused by medical issues, as opposed to causes directly related to diving, has declined. Methods: Fatalities reported to PADI as having occurred during DSD scuba dives were counted for each year between 1992-2019. DSD participant registrations were also counted for each year. The data were conveniently divided into two equal 14-year periods, 1992-2005 (“early”) and 2006-2019 (“late”). To smooth out the year-to-year variation in raw rates, Monte Carlo simulations were performed on the mean rate per 100,000 participants per year during each period. Results: There were a total of 7,118,731 DSD participant registrations and 79 fatalities during the study period. The estimated overall mean mortality rate in the early period was 2.55 per 100,000 DSD registrations whereas the estimated rate of 0.87 per 100,000 DSD registrations was significantly lower in the latter period (P < 0.0001). Conclusions: PADI’s Discover Scuba Diving introductory scuba experiences today, at 0.87 fatalities per 100,000 participants, have a calculated mortality rate per 100,000 participants that is less than half that calculated for 1992-2008. The latter period’s rate improvement appears due either to significant under-registration in the early period, or to significant safety-performance improvement in the latter period or, more likely, some combination of the two.
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