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Death Of Passengers on a Steamship - An Historical Perspective

DEATH OF PASSENGERS


It is a mistaken notion to believe that first or second class passengers who die at sea are consigned to the deep. In fact, every first-class steamer carries caskets, and the surgeon will embalm the body. He is entitled to a fee of twenty pounds for so doing. Deaths at sea are few, and bad health should not deter any one from making the voyage.

Additional Information (1909)

Some steamship companies, when a death occurs from ordinary causes among the steerage passengers and which has been followed by burial at sea, tacitly expect the doctor to protect the corporation’s interest by either making out a lax report or by omitting to mention the occurrence altogether in the papers to the quarantine officials.

This saves time and money sometimes, but is perilous, for if the offense be detected, the company is not only heavily fined, but the doctor himself becomes henceforth a suspicious character to the officials.

Accounts.—The clerical work which the company and government regulations require from the doctor is such as relates naturally to his professional duties.

His name must be attached to all official papers relating to the health of crew or passengers. His signature attached places him upon his honor as to the truth of the contents of such indentures.

Rejections of immigrant passengers at the port of embarkation with a statement of the cause must be officially noted by him. Sickness or death occurring among either crew or passengers must be also entered, accompanied by the doctor's descriptive statement.

Donnelly, James Francis, M.D., "Medical Service in the Merchant Marine," in Medical Record: A Weekly Journal of Medicine and Surgery, Volume 75, No. 17, Whole No. 2007, New York, 24 April 1909, P. 690-694

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