Sickbay was the main medical center aboard Federation starships. Sickbay was presided over by the chief medical officer (CMO), a senior staff member. The CMO was supported by various doctors and nurses. The area was also used for certain analyses of new lifeforms a starship might encounter, and for developing treatments for unknown diseases or illnesses. When rendering aid to a stricken planet or spacecraft, the sickbay staff treated and cared for the wounded. On starbases, sickbay was typically called the infirmary.
Intensive care unit Edit
Galaxy-class intensive care unit Edit
Three or four biobeds generally lined the walls of sickbay's intensive care unit, or ICU; these were for patients receiving medical care and were equipped with biofunction monitors. On Galaxy-class starships, private rooms were available for long-term patients. (TNG: "Ethics")
Surgical facilities Edit
Main surgical bed in the Galaxy-class sickbay Edit
Sickbays also had surgical beds, where major surgeries were performed and critical patients were treated. A large, sophisticated sensor cluster was usually installed directly above this bed. Working in conjunction with a medical tricorder, the sensor suite could give detailed information about a patient's condition. The bed was also designed to use a surgical support frame. This bed was often located in the center of the main sickbay room, although refit Constitution-class and Intrepid-class starships had separate spaces for their surgical beds, the former in a separate room, the latter in a small area that could be isolated by a force field. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture; VOY: "Caretaker", "Phage") If necessary, surgery could be conducted in the intensive care ward if there was an overflow of patients or if another patient was present to donate blood. (TOS: "Journey to Babel"; VOY: "Latent Image") Galaxy-class starships also had separate surgical rooms. (TNG: "Ethics")
The sickbay laboratory Edit
Sickbays typically had small laboratory facilities attached to the ICU. The chief medical officer or other associated personnel could monitor experiments or run tests here during their duty shift. (TNG: "Evolution", "Clues", "The Game"; VOY: "Macrocosm") The laboratory was equipped with a full bioisolation field. (TNG: "Home Soil") Many starships also have separate, larger medlabs. Galaxy-class ships had at least four. (TNG: "Ethics"; Star Trek Nemesis)
The sickbay laboratory set as seen in "Evolution" was directly connected to the sickbay set by a glass door in the waiting area of Dr. Crusher's office. It was redressed several times, and also served as the tactical laboratory.
CMO's office Edit
Chief medical officer's office in the Galaxy-class sickbay Edit
The chief medical officer's office was also located in or near sickbay. As with the captain's ready room, it was an area for the CMO to work in privacy or conduct meetings with patients, staff, and others. Its close location allowed the CMO to be present in sickbay almost immediately. The space could be personalized, and the chief medical officer could use plants or paintings for decoration. Dr. Beverly Crusher had a large painting outside her office; it was an abstract representation of humanoid organs against the backdrop of space and several of the USS Enterprise starships.
The large master monitor of a Galaxy-class sickbay
Other treatment facilities available in a Galaxy-class sickbay included physical therapy rooms, (TNG: "Ethics") OB/GYN and nursery areas, (TNG: "The Child", "Data's Day") and an emergency bio support unit. (TNG: "Transfigurations") A stasis unit was also available, used to temporarily place patients in suspended animation for later treatment. (TNG: "Genesis") Constitution-class starships had a decompression chamber, and may have had other features as well. (TOS: "Space Seed", "The Empath", "The Lights of Zetar")
A morgue facility was also part of sickbay. On Galaxy-class starships, there was a large separate morgue, (TNG: "Man of the People", "Suspicions") although autopsies were performed in the main sickbay. (TNG: "Realm of Fear", "Suspicions") The Intrepid-class had a tiny area for storage of the deceased just off the medical lab as well as a separate morgue area. (VOY: "Basics, Part II", "Emanations", "Renaissance Man")
Technical supply area in the Galaxy-class sickbay Edit
Sickbays were well stocked with a variety of medical equipment and supplies. Much of it was left out on tables or benches for use by the medical crew, but some items were stored in cargo crates. (TNG: "Haven", "Starship Mine"; VOY: "Message in a Bottle") On 24th century starships, if a piece of equipment was needed but not available it could be replicated. A standard food replicator was also found in sickbay, (TNG: "Evolution", "Future Imperfect") although the quality of the food did not appear to have improved much since the twentieth century. (TNG: "Ethics")
Due to its critical importance, the primary sickbay was usually located deep within the saucer section of most Federation starships. Sickbays were well-protected, and generally had a phaser locker for defense of the facility in the event the ship was boarded. (TNG: "Starship Mine", "Timescape")
Sickbays could provide limited psychological services to a starship's crew. In the 23rd century, the ship's doctor often doubled as an informal counselor. (TOS: "The Cage") By the 24th century, counselors became a normal part of starship crews. Although not formally part of the medical staff, the counselor played an important role in the well-being of the crew. (TNG: "Relics") Counselors were not always assigned to starships, especially smaller vessels with limited missions. While the USS Voyager was stranded in the Delta Quadrant, the ship's Emergency Medical Hologram and morale officer Neelix informally filled the counselor roles. (Star Trek: Voyager)
Emergency situations Edit
When a large scale disaster was encountered by a starship, cargo bays and shuttlebays could be used as triage centers and even morgues if necessary. Generally, this was only feasible on larger ships with a sizable medical staff. On Galaxy-class ships, a chief medical officer could order all Starfleet crewmembers and civilians with medical training to assist during a major crisis. (TNG: "Night Terrors", "Ethics") Galaxy-class starships also carried large quantities of backup medical supplies in the event of disaster. (TNG: "Preemptive Strike")
Designated environmental shelters could also be converted for medical use, such as Ten Forward on the Galaxy-class. (TNG: "Night Terrors", "Disaster") On the Intrepid-class USS Voyager, the mess hall often served as a backup to sickbay. (VOY: "Macrocosm", "Before and After", "Year of Hell", "Memorial")
The Emergency Medical Hologram Edit
The Emergency Medical Hologram was an asset to medical personnel introduced in 2370. It could be activated in the event of a major emergency or loss of the medical staff. Although its value was indisputable, many Starfleet doctors, including Beverly Crusher, were not fond of the program, and it was rewritten several times. (Star Trek: First Contact; DS9: "Doctor Bashir, I Presume"; VOY: "Life Line") One noteworthy EMH was The Doctor of the USS Voyager. He was activated shortly after the ship's disappearance in 2371, and served as their chief medical officer for nearly seven years, growing into a sentient being in the process. (VOY: "Caretaker", "Endgame")
Differences among starship classes Edit
Sickbay aboard an NX-class starship Edit
Several side beds in an NX-class sickbay Edit
The NX-class had a single sickbay ward on E Deck. The room contained a main operating table, as well as several side beds for recovery of patients and an imaging chamber. It was also easily capable of caring for non-humanoid patients. The facility was open-plan, with laboratory equipment in the main sickbay area. Aboard Enterprise NX-01, Dr. Phlox often kept various different species of animals in sickbay, which he would sometimes use in the treatment of injuries in lieu of more traditional treatments. One such animal was an osmotic eel. (ENT: "These Are the Voyages...", "Fight or Flight", "A Night in Sickbay", "Broken Bow")
One early concept sketch of the NX-class sickbay was illustrated by John Eaves. His boss, Production Designer Herman Zimmerman, initially reckoned that – because the final design of the room made it look quite similar to a contemporary hospital ward – viewers might at first think it seemed like it was an area from the TV series ER. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 135, p. 65) While Eaves was busy conceiving the look of the NX-class bridge stations, the sickbay was one of several areas that Art Director Louise Dorton adopted the task of designing, still under Zimmerman's supervision. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 7, p. 51)
Door to a sickbay aboard a Kelvin-type ship Edit
The Kelvin-type sickbay was a brightly white-lit room, furnished with at least one biobed. Next to the bed were a couple of free-standing consoles and two overhead monitors.
In the novelization of Star Trek, the USS Kelvin's medical bay is described as being on deck nine of the ship.
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Sickbay aboard a Constitution-class starship (post-2270s refit) Edit
On Constitution-class starships, sickbay was located on Deck 5. (TOS: "Mirror, Mirror") It was maintained and operated by the Astro-Medicine Department. There were at least four wards. (TOS: "The Naked Time") In addition to this ward, there was an isolation ward. (TOS: "Turnabout Intruder") It was completely redesigned during the refit of the USS Enterprise, much to the chagrin of Dr. McCoy. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture; Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)
Sickbay aboard a Constitution-class starship (post-2290s refit) Edit
By 2293, the sickbay on Constitution-class starships was redesigned yet again. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)
It should be noted that while "Mirror, Mirror" put sickbay on Deck 5, most Constitution-class blueprints instead put it on Deck 7. The sickbay was also once referred to as a "dispensary". (TOS: "The Man Trap") Additionally, wards were redesignated following the refit. Before the refit, they were identified by number; after, by letter. (TOS: "The Man Trap", "The Naked Time"; Star Trek: The Motion Picture, text commentary by Michael Okuda who names two of the wards as Ward A and Ward B.)