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Management of inflight medical events on commercial airlines

Paulo M Alves, MD, MSc, FasMA
Section Editors
Daniel F Danzl, MD
Scott Manaker, MD, PhD
Deputy Editor
Jonathan Grayzel, MD, FAAEM


Inflight medical events are increasing due to the steadily rising number of air travelers, the aging of the United States and European populations, and the increasing mobility of people with acute and chronic illnesses [1,2]. Traveling physicians and other medical providers may suddenly find themselves in a difficult environment, in front of many onlookers, managing conditions they do not normally treat, with unfamiliar equipment. There are no universal guidelines for managing inflight medical events, but there are aspects of the aircraft environment and resources of which the treating clinician should be aware. This topic will review the following:

Epidemiology of inflight medical events and emergencies

Cabin environment and how this may affect passengers with medical complaints

Airline medical emergency protocols

Medical resources aboard aircraft (see 'Resources on board an aircraft' below)

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Literature review current through: Oct 2017. | This topic last updated: Jan 26, 2017.
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