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SCUBA Diving and the Bends

Allan Erde, MC, USN
JAMA. 1963;183(9):807. doi:10.1001/jama.1963.03700090127031.
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To the Editor:  —One omission from the excellent remarks on medical aspects of SCUBA diving by Drs. Salzman and Jung in the Oct. 27 issue of The Journal (182:34) was underscored by the sentence: "By using compressed air a diver can descend without too much danger to a depth of 125 feet." The omission, of course, is discussion of decompression sickness or the "bends." Diving to 125 ft and surfacing without decompression is limited to 10 min of "bottom time" according to Navy diving tables. Repetitive diving reduces this safe bottom time to even briefer periods. During the past 2 yr, 23 civilian sport SCUBA divers have been treated for decompression sickness in the recompression-decompression chambers of the submarine base at Pearl Harbor. Next to drowning, this disease is the most common serious misfortune encountered in diving. It can be prevented by informing SCUBA divers of the limitations of


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The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
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