The Clinician’s Guide to In-Flight Emergencies

Table 2: Suggested Responses to In-Flight Medical Emergencies

Medical providers responding to in-flight medical emergencies should:
  • Introduce themselves and state their medical qualifications
  • Ask the passenger for permission to treat, if feasible
  • Request access to the medical kit or AED, as needed
  • Use a language interpreter if necessary, while remaining aware of patient privacy
  • Take a patient history, perform a focused physical examination, and obtain vital signs
  • Administer treatment within the scope of their qualifications, with the patient remaining seated when possible
  • Recommend diversion of the flight if the patient’s condition is critical
  • Communicate and coordinate with ground-based medical resources
  • Continue to provide care until the emergency medical condition is stabilized or care is transferred to other qualified medical personnel
  • Document the patient encounter

AED=automated external defibrillator

Source: Nable et al. N Engl J Med. 2015;373:939-945.