In-flight medical emergencies: Will a doctor be on board? - New York News

In-flight medical emergencies: Will a doctor be on board?

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A new study finds fainting is the top medical emergency while cruising in the clouds. That tops the list of in-flight medical emergency. And chances of finding a doctor on board are about 50/50.

Dr. Steven Meldon, an emergency room doctor at the Cleveland Clinic, weighs in on the study. "The most common medical emergencies were fainting, respiratory symptoms like shortness of breathe or wheezing, and nausea or vomiting. What was interesting was, half the flights had physicians who responded to the medical emergency."

About 48% of the time a physician, who was a passenger, provided medical assistance. This may be why less than 10% of in-flight medical emergencies resulted in a diversion of the aircraft. All the research is printed in the New England Journal of Medicine. It reviewed records of nearly 12,000 in-flight medical emergencies.

"The incidents of having a medical emergency was only 1 in 600. It sounds like a lot, but if you think about it, you'd have to fly 600 times to be on a flight that needed medical emergency," Dr. Meldon added.

The researchers do say airline passengers who are health care professionals such as nurses, doctors, or EMTs, should be aware of their potential role as volunteer responders.

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