Christmas Is The Busiest Air Travel Season. Would You Be Ready In An Emergency Happened Mid-Flight?

A Common Occurrence

More than 4 billion passengers are expected to fly in 2019, and more than 60,000 medical emergencies are expected to occur during commercial flights.1 Emergency clinicians who work with acutely ill patients may have had the experience of boarding an aircraft and wondering what they would do if a medical emergency occurred.

?Should I respond??

?What kinds of medications and equipment are aboard??

?Would I be legally protected if something went wrong??

These questions can be paralyzing and prevent otherwise highly trained medical personnel from delivering life-saving care.

Lifelong Learning, Applied

Megan Carman, NP, encountered one of those 60,000+ inflight medical emergencies just last month. She used the Emergency Medicine Practice issue, ?Assisting With Air Travel Medical Emergencies: Responsibilities and Pitfalls? to familiarize herself with the roles, equipment, and protections available if called upon to respond to an in-flight medical emergency. Little did she know, Carman would be putting that knowledge to use shortly thereafter.

?How helpful that inflight emergency module was! Right after I read it, I was on a flight and a passenger started seizing. I knew to ask for the drugs and which ones they would have and to ask for IV supplies, and when people got upset about why we weren’t going to land, I told them it was a pilot decision and the average cost of landing. Also, when an anesthesiologist, who was also on the plane, was hesitant to help, I was able to tell him there are specific protections for medical providers who assist on planes as long as you are not grossly negligent or acting out of scope? Thank you for all this great info!? -Megan Carman, NP

Carman and many other Emergency Medicine Practice subscribers have specifically noted that they would be more likely to volunteer to assist with an inflight medical emergency after reading this issue.

Review This Issue

To review the issue that helped Carman and other Emergency Medicine Practice subscribers have increased confidence when faced with an inflight medical emergency, click here.

Test your knowledge

Did you get it right? Click here to find out!

The correct answer: B.

1. Peterson DC, Martin-Gill C, Guyette FX, et al. Outcomes of medical emergencies on commercial airline flights. N Engl J Med. 2013;368(22):2075-2083. (Retrospective review; 11,920 in-flight medical emergencies)

Last Updated on January 26, 2023

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