A retrospective study was carried out on medical evacuations from the installations of four major oil or gas producing companies, or both, operating offshore on the United Kingdom continental shelf. The study covered 1976-84 during which 2162 evacuations were recorded. Of these, 137 (7.7%) required the use of a chartered helicopter. In the earlier years of the study there were substantially more injuries sustained than episodes of illness recorded but from 1980 onwards the cases of illness equalled those of injury. Using the International Classification of Diseases, the digestive system was responsible for most evacuations for illness and of those, about half (115 evacuations) were for dental problems. Suspected fractures were responsible for about one third of those evacuated for an injury but injuries of hands and eye conditions were particularly common, accounting for 25% of all evacuations. As the age of the evacuee increased the proportion of evacuations for injury decreased and that for illness increased. The mean age for evacuation for injury was 28.3 years and for illness 34.4 years. Few evacuations were required for those aged over 45.
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