"A chronically ill patient who already had some myocardial infarction should consult his doctor before a long distance flight," Sand said. "Somebody who's diabetic should be traveling with insulin."
The good news is that when medical emergencies do happen mid-flight, the researchers found that medical professionals were often on board and willing to help.
"In 86 percent of the cases, we had a nurse, paramedic or a doctor on board who could assist in treating the patient," said Sand. "Another possibility would be a bonus program for physicians who voluntarily register as a physician on board in case there will be an emergency."
"This study, like the others that have been done, is actually pretty reassuring," said Andrus. "If there is an emergency, they are probably better off than they would be in a lot of other public spaces."
But more work remains to ensure consistency of emergency care among airplanes, the study authors noted.
"In fact, all flights have first-aid boxes. However, there are big differences regarding the contents. It would be favorable that every airline would carry emergency medical equipment so that a physician would have everything necessary for a reanimation or securing the airway or IV medication," said Sand. "Currently, this is not the situation in every airplane."
"The other limitation in terms of reporting anything is that we often don't know the outcome or final diagnosis, particularly in the United States, where we have strict privacy laws," said Sand. "The airlines appropriately do not have access to your medical records."
"This study, like the others that have been done, is actually pretty reassuring," said Andrus. "If there is an emergency, they are probably better off than they would
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