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J Korean Med Assoc > Volume 49(5); 2006 > Article
Han: Managing In-flight Medical Emergency


In-flight medical emergencies are likely to increase as air travel continues to grow and as more elderly passengers with preexisting diseases fly long distances. Unscheduled landing for a medical reason is a serious situation for commercial air carriers. The common causes of unscheduled landings are cardiac and neurological problems. Physician passengers might be called upon to help ill or injured passengers at any time. Physicians play an important role in in-flight medical emergencies. Most airlines have installed the emergency medical kits and automated external defibrillator (AED), ambu bag, intubation set, etc. The management of in-flight medical emergences requires the assistance from well-trained crew, adequate medical equipments and medications, availability of physician passengers, and ground medical communications. This article summarizes the in-flight resources available for physician passengers when called upon for medical emergencies while on board.


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Table 1
Common causes of in-flight medical incidents

*percent of total incidents

Table 2
Recommendations to physicians assisting at inflight medical emergencies
Table 3
Contents of Emergency Medical Kit

*Flight safety regulation

Table 4
Contents of 2004 FAA Enhanced Medical Kit


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