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"Alive, but his life force flickers. We must get him to the sickbay immediately."
―Sayar Dun'La, on an injured Gar Stazi[3]

Sick bay, also spelled sickbay and also known as a medbay, medical bay, medical center, or medical wing, was a room or area on a starship where the sick and injured were healed. It was similar to a medcenter or a hospital. Sick bays could be found on both military and civilian vessels, and in some instances in non-mobile bases, throughout thousands of years of galactic history. They were often furnished with hospital beds and bacta tanks, and they could be staffed by sentients and medical droids alike. The sick bay aboard the medical frigate Redemption also included ammonia chambers, where species that breathed ammonia could recuperate after prolonged exposure to oxygen.


"You'll never learn, will you? You belong in sick bay. This time we'll have Too-Onebee knock you out."
General Crix Madine, to Luke Skywalker[4]

Sick bay was the name given to an area on starships where the sick and injured were healed.[1] Also known as sickbay,[3] medbay,[5] a medical bay,[6] a medical center,[7] or a medical wing,[8] it served a similar purpose to medcenters and hospitals.[2][7][3] The Queen of Empire,[1] FarStar,[9] Reciprocity,[10] Tantive IV,[7] Chu'unthor,[8] Uwana Buyer,[6] and the Alliance were examples of ships that had sick bays.[3] Furnishings in sick bays included hospital beds[7][3] and bacta tanks, and staff could consist of both sentients and medical droids.[7] Additionally, the sick bay in the medical frigate Redemption[11] included ammonia chambers, where ammonia-breathing species could recuperate after prolonged exposure to oxygen.[12]

Sick bays[3] were distinguished from medical frigates, which were vessels dedicated primarily to the transportation and care of the wounded and convalescent, and which were primarily staffed by medical personnel.[13] Contrarily, sick bays were usually limited to smaller areas aboard non-medical starships, such as a single room[7] or wing. The latter was the case with the Jedi Order's Chu'unthor training ship, which housed a medical wing[8] composed of dozens of healing and hospital rooms. Their purpose was to teach Jedi trainees healing arts which they could then use to aid the physically and mentally impaired.[14] Nevertheless, the medical frigate Redemption[11] included a sick bay.[12] Eyrie Base, a Rebel Alliance base on the planet Karatha, housed a sick bay despite being a non-mobile location.[2]


Solo: "You're hurt—"
Showolter: "Can't afford the time. Send a med, I'll be all right."
Solo: "This man needs to be moved to sick bay. Immediately—got it?"
Steward: "Yes, sir, immediately."
―Han Solo, Major Showolter, and a Duros steward, during a Yuuzhan Vong attack on the Queen of Empire[src]

In 3962 BBY, former Jedi Padawan Zayne Carrick pretended that the entire crew of the Axehead frigate Reciprocity had been quarantined to the vessel's sick bay as part of a ruse that allowed him to board the Phaedacomm space station in the Phaeda system.[10] Millennia later, Doctor Zahara Cody of the Imperial prison barge Purge quarantined several sick crewmembers to the medbay when they became infected with the mysterious disease known as the sickness.[15] Later on in the Galactic Civil War, Rebel Alliance agents Stevan Makintay and Ketrian Altronel planned to raid the sick bay of a transport used by the Galactic Empire in order to find an antidote to the xebonica poison, which had been administered to Altronel, but a rescue by other Alliance agents prevented the need.[16] She was later treated in the sick bay of the Alliance's Eyrie Base, which became the site of a skirmish between Makintay and Imperial Major Nial Pedrin.[2]

The Tantive IV's medical center

The Gand bounty hunter Zuckuss was taken to the Redemption's sick bay[12] in the year 3 ABY[17] after his ammonia-breathing lungs received oxygen burns. While he recovered, a ceremony was held in sick bay to promote Rebel agent Toryn Farr to the rank of commander—she insisted on the location so as to allow Zuckuss to attend. While the Gand was in an ammonia chamber, the famous Rebel Luke Skywalker was in the sick bay's solarium[12] receiving a new cybernetic hand.[18]

During the reign of the New Republic, smuggler Talon Karrde employed a Twi'lek masseuse aboard his Luxury 5000 space yacht, the Uwana Buyer. As she was using the salary to pay her way through medical school, she also worked as a doctor in the ship's medical bay.[6] The CR90 corvette FarStar Captain Kaiya Adrimetrum was confined to sick bay in 8 ABY after being rendered comatose by a poison native to the planet Sebiris,[9] and the year 25 ABY saw Major Showolter of the New Republic Intelligence Service sent to the Luxury liner Queen of Empire's sick bay by Han Solo, captain of the Millennium Falcon, after being injured in an attack by Yuuzhan Vong warriors.[1] The Jade Shadow, personal starship of Mara Jade Skywalker, had a medbay, where Jedi Master Luke Skywalker left his corporeal body in the year 43 ABY while walking beyond shadows.[19]

In 137 ABY, during the Second Imperial Civil War, Admiral Gar Stazi of the Galactic Alliance Remnant was betrayed and shot by Shipman Tealart aboard the Imperious-class Star Destroyer Alliance. Gravely injured, the Admiral was confined to sick bay and treated by the Jedi healer Sayar Dun'La while Captain Jhoram Bey took command of the Galactic Alliance Core Fleet during a subsequent space battle with the forces of Darth Krayt's Galactic Empire. Bey's attempts to flee into hyperspace were repeatedly thwarted by the pursuing Imperials, and when Stazi figured out that the enemy was tracing the frequency vibrations of the Alliance's communications array, he was barely able to whisper as much to Bey from his hospital bed. The revelation allowed Bey to thwart the Imperials and win the day.[3]

Behind the scenes[]

"Star Trek and Star Wars helped several generations create a visual images [sic] of health care's future that include diagnostic "wands," sick-bay beds with magical sensors, needle-free injections, virtual doctors, robot nurses, and much more."
―Douglas E. Goldstein, in his book Medical Informatics 20/20[src]

Dr. Beverly Crusher operates in sick bay in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Sick bays have appeared in a wide variety of Star Wars multimedia, referred to by varying names including sickbay and medbay.[2][7][3] In real life, sick bay is a nautical term dating back to the days of sail. As there were relatively few places on shore where ill seamen could be treated, most ships had sick berths located in the vessel's stern. The name "sick bay" was derived from the stern's rounded contours, which suggested the shape of a bay.[20] Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines sick bay as "a compartment in a ship used as a dispensary and hospital," and, more broadly, "a place for the care of the sick or injured."[21] For example, the United States Navy's USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the entire world, includes a sick bay in the fore of the vessel's berth deck that was historically used to treat sailors injured in battle and by various maladies.[22]

Sick bays and medical bays are recurring themes in the science fiction and space fantasy genres—in addition to Star Wars, they have appeared in such franchises as Star Trek,[23] Battlestar Galactica,[24] Mass Effect,[25] and Farscape.[26] In his book Medical Informatics 20/20, author Douglas E. Goldstein credits the sick bays seen in the Wars and Trek franchises with helping inspire the future of health care.[23] Similarly, a high-tech disease detection facility unveiled by the University of Leicester in 2011 was called a "Science-Fiction Style 'Sick Bay'" by Medical News Today[27] and a "sickbay that uses space-age technology" by the Daily Mail.[28]


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Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 The New Jedi Order: Agents of Chaos I: Hero's Trial, chapter 22
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 SWAJsmall.jpg "Desperate Measures" – Star Wars Adventure Journal 10
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Legacy (2006) 42
  4. The Truce at Bakura
  5. Death Troopers, chapter 10
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 SWGamer-icon.png "Ships of the Smuggler's Alliance"—Star Wars Gamer 4
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 Empire 6
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 The Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels, p. 21 ("Chu'unthor")
  9. 9.0 9.1 DSCheader.png "Traitor in our Midst"—The DarkStryder Campaign
  10. 10.0 10.1 Knights of the Old Republic: War 3
  11. 11.0 11.1 C-3PO: Tales of the Golden Droid, p. 83 identifies the ship seen in The Empire Strikes Back as the Redemption.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Of Possible Futures: The Tale of Zuckuss and 4-LOM
  13. The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, Vol. II, p. 300 ("Medical frigate")
  14. The Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels, p. 20 ("Chu'unthor")
  15. Death Troopers
  16. SWAJsmall.jpg "Firepower" – Star Wars Adventure Journal 8
  17. The New Essential Chronology, p. 118
  18. Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back
  19. Fate of the Jedi: Abyss, chapter 16
  20. Origin of Navy Terminology. The Navy Department Library. Archived from the original on January 14, 2013.
  21. Sick bay - Definition. Merriam-Webster's Dictionary. Archived from the original on January 15, 2013.
  22. USS Constitution's Sick Bay. YouTube. Archived from the original on February 23, 2013.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Douglas E. Goldstein: Medical Informatics 20/20. books.google.com. Archived from the original on August 19, 2020.
  24. Battlestar Galactica, Season 2, Episode 17: The Captain's Hand
  25. Michael Monette: Noveria - Mass Effect. Super Cheats. Archived from the original on October 8, 2008.
  26. Scott K. Andrews: Farscape Rewatch: "Beware of Dog". Farscape Rewatch on Tor.com. Tor.com. Archived from the original on May 12, 2013.
  27. Leicester Scientists Deploy Space-Age Technologies At Science-Fiction Style 'Sick Bay' (2011-09-02). Medical News Today. Archived from the original on October 18, 2011.
  28. Fiona Macrae: The space-age sickbay that diagnoses disease without need for tests from sight, smell and 'feel' of disease (2011-09-01). Daily Mail. Archived from the original on March 11, 2013.