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Is there a doctor on board?

Is there a doctor on board?

Old Jun 24, 12, 11:30 am
  #1  
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Is there a doctor on board?

I'm a Paramedic Practitioner, not a Doctor, but in the past year or so, I've had to treat 4 people in flight and another one in a lounge and this strikes me as a dramatic increase compared to past experiences. I've also been flying commercial quite a bit lately (60+ flights a year) so I'm not sure if this is just a statistical thing (more flights=more potential to be involved in incidents), if this has just been a bad year, or if this kind of thing is getting more common.

How much do you fly (flights or miles) and how often have you heard the announcement?
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Old Jun 24, 12, 11:44 am
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Originally Posted by medic51vrf View Post
I'm a Paramedic Practitioner, not a Doctor, but in the past year or so, I've had to treat 4 people in flight and another one in a lounge and this strikes me as a dramatic increase compared to past experiences. I've also been flying commercial quite a bit lately (60+ flights a year) so I'm not sure if this is just a statistical thing (more flights=more potential to be involved in incidents), if this has just been a bad year, or if this kind of thing is getting more common.

.
once, in about 1000 flights. flying population is getting older. the older demographic is flying more(me). older people have increased risk of need of emergency services
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Old Jun 24, 12, 11:48 am
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Originally Posted by medic51vrf View Post
I'm a Paramedic Practitioner, not a Doctor, but in the past year or so, I've had to treat 4 people in flight and another one in a lounge and this strikes me as a dramatic increase compared to past experiences. I've also been flying commercial quite a bit lately (60+ flights a year) so I'm not sure if this is just a statistical thing (more flights=more potential to be involved in incidents), if this has just been a bad year, or if this kind of thing is getting more common.

How much do you fly (flights or miles) and how often have you heard the announcement?
Twice in the last year, both times the plane was diverted to land immediately and the people were carried off the plane. One lady was brought on in a wheel chair, left in the rope thingie and the other lady's family told the people around them that she had been very ill and they were trying to make it home to Dallas to have her treated. They were both pretty fragile before flying.

Last edited by MissJoeyDFW; Jun 24, 12 at 11:56 am
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Old Jun 24, 12, 12:10 pm
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According to the medics at Clt it is getting more common. My thoughts there's just so much more pressure flying now than it use to be & after dealing with the TSA idiots that's enough to get any one.
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Old Jun 24, 12, 2:33 pm
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I fly 2x per week on average, and have for the last 9 years.

I have heard the announcement 5 times that I can remember, there may have been a few I was asleep for. Only once was the flight actually diverted due to a medical emergency (a kid's appendix supposedly ruptured).

I think it is more frequent than it was in past decades for a number of reasons:

1: More people flying..the reduction in average ticket prices means most flights are full and that there are more flights than there were in the 80's and 90's. The increase in customers means an increase in incidents.

2: Related to above, but due to the drop in price people who used to take the bus can now fly, and they are less experienced with it. This means older people with less flying experience and more fear. They tend to have panic attacks, seizures, cardiac events etc as a result of anxiety.

3: A general decline in overall health in the US population. Obesity rises and so do all the things that go with it. You can thank the FDA in 1992 for allowing all kinds of crap in the food supply for the benefit of industrial food production profits.

4: Overmedication...Pills are perscribed like candy. People take things and have reactions to them, and sometimes as a result of mixing their pills with booze. I remember hearing one gentleman telling a nurse on a plane (the only medical professional onboard) what he was taking: Ativan, Lisinopril/HCZ, Celexa, a nicotine patch, and some Aleve..and he was drinking beer..no wonder he felt like crap and thought he was dying.
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Old Jun 24, 12, 2:45 pm
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Originally Posted by medic51vrf View Post
I've also been flying commercial quite a bit lately (60+ flights a year) so I'm not sure if this is just a statistical thing (more flights=more potential to be involved in incidents), if this has just been a bad year, or if this kind of thing is getting more common.
Probably a combination of your flying more often, along with the clustering illusion.
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Old Jun 24, 12, 5:51 pm
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I've been flying semi-regularly since 2006, and have heard the call for a doctor twice - both times within the last year. Neither flight ended up diverting as a result of whatever the emergency was.
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Old Jun 24, 12, 7:24 pm
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Originally Posted by Science Goy View Post
Probably a combination of your flying more often, along with the clustering illusion.
I have not noted any increase in calls for a doctor.
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Old Jun 24, 12, 8:34 pm
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They didn't ask on the only flight I've been on that's had a medical emergency. It was a 50 seat CRJ so there wasn't really a need - everyone could see what was going on.

The flight had been delayed 2+ hours while we waited for a replacement pilot and to top things off we flew the 40 minutes from MSP to SUX but were greeted by pea soup fog. After circling for 20 minutes the visibility had dropped to 1/8th mile so back to MSP we went. The lady next to me (I forget how old she said she was but it was close to 90) who had been so excited to go see her kids, grandkids, great grandkids didn't take it so well. She had been traveling for over a day enduring almost 24 hours of delays just getting to MSP and used the last full dose of her inhaler right before take off. From what I could tell had a mild panic attack when she realized instead of landing in a few minutes and getting a new inhaler from her daughter at the gate that she was going back to MSP without any medication. The FA onboard was very professional and did everything she could to make her comfortable on the trip back. The DL ground crew gets a big ^ for having a jetway reconfigured for the smaller CRJ ready with the paramedics waiting inside when we arrived. I'm not sure what happened to her but she wasn't on the rescheduled flight the next morning. I was rather surprised when I talked to her daughter when we finally got home that DL had no idea which hospital they took her to.
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Old Jun 24, 12, 9:06 pm
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Is there a doctor on board?

Been years since I've been on a flight where they called for a doctor.
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Old Jun 24, 12, 11:19 pm
  #11  
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I think I've heard it about once every 500 flights for me. I've heard it about half a dozen times.
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Old Jun 25, 12, 3:42 am
  #12  
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Originally Posted by medic51vrf View Post
I'm a Paramedic Practitioner, not a Doctor, but in the past year or so, I've had to treat 4 people in flight and another one in a lounge and this strikes me as a dramatic increase compared to past experiences. I've also been flying commercial quite a bit lately (60+ flights a year) so I'm not sure if this is just a statistical thing (more flights=more potential to be involved in incidents), if this has just been a bad year, or if this kind of thing is getting more common.

How much do you fly (flights or miles) and how often have you heard the announcement?
What "obligation" did you have to treat those people, other than your clearly admirable sense of altruism? Also, what professional indemnity insurance cover do you carry? Is this an Antipodean phenomenon, perhaps?

I also travel internationally frequently and widely, but its been my experience that any airline worth its salt (a) trains its crews extensively and frequently in first aid procedures, (b) carries a very comprehensive medical kit, including equipment for medical practitioners' use only, and (b) has immediate in-flight access to expert medical advice.

In the course of 349 sectors flown over the last five years - all fully logged in my diary, I am embarrassed to confess - I have come across exactly one medical "emergency", and I put that in quotation marks because even that was doubtful.

Best wishes,

45128 MD FRCA
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Old Jun 25, 12, 6:59 am
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Originally Posted by 45128 View Post
What "obligation" did you have to treat those people, other than your clearly admirable sense of altruism? Also, what professional indemnity insurance cover do you carry? Is this an Antipodean phenomenon, perhaps?

I also travel internationally frequently and widely, but its been my experience that any airline worth its salt (a) trains its crews extensively and frequently in first aid procedures, (b) carries a very comprehensive medical kit, including equipment for medical practitioners' use only, and (b) has immediate in-flight access to expert medical advice.

In the course of 349 sectors flown over the last five years - all fully logged in my diary, I am embarrassed to confess - I have come across exactly one medical "emergency", and I put that in quotation marks because even that was doubtful.

Best wishes,

45128 MD FRCA
Wow, all good questions.

Excluding when I'm actually on duty, which is another thing all together and usually won't involve a commercial jet (although I have occasionally had to escort a patient on a commercial flight when we couldn't exfil any other way within practicality) it's just a moral obligation.

I have malpractice insurance both through my employer and personally (due to the fact that I freelance on occasion).

Not sure if it's just an Aussie thing, hence the reason for this thread, but ALL of my incidents have been either Aussie domestic or on flights out of Oz. BTW thanks for the use of "Antipodean". You made me look it up and I love learning new things.

I would assume that the FAs have somewhat decent first aid training but they have always been VERY eager to hand off the patient ASAP. The "Doctors kits" that I've been handed have been quite good and fairly well organised but the FAs have been pretty clueless about what's in them. When I've asked "Do you have (x) in your bags?" I've almost always gotten a blank look and had the bag shoved into my hands, even when I've asked for something as simple as a BP cuff (and yes, I called it a BP cuff when asking them, not a sphygmo). Not sure what in-air medical advice they have access to but, again, you'd think that they'd be able to establish comms with someone out there.

I suppose it's also important to note that, after hearing the announcement, I've never jumped up with the "here I am to save the day" attitude. It's always been press the FA call button and tell him/her "I'm just a Paramedic but if you need me to I'll do what I can.". Sometimes there are MDs on the jet in which case I've assisted or just sat back down when they clearly had things under control, other times it has been a bit different.

A funny story: I was in J on a PER-SIN flight and was talking with the guy in the pod next to me. He said he was a doctor and I told him I was a 'medic. Shortly after takeoff we heard "the announcement" and I looked at him and said "Doc, it looks like you're up." He looked back at me and said "Mate, I'm a Gynocologist. This is more of your thing." We both got up and walked back to Y where there must have been a doctor's convention. There were about 10 people standing around the patient (who had vomited but otherwise didn't look unwell). We looked at each other and, almost in synch with each other, said "Looks like they have it under control." and went back to our seats.
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Old Jun 25, 12, 9:37 am
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Actually, happened on my flight on June 16 DL14 ATL to FRA. First, they asked for a doctor in both languages. Obviously, they didn't get anybody because in the next announcements, they included nurses, paramedics, EMTs.
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Old Aug 4, 12, 9:00 pm
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"Do We Have a Doctor on Board" Stories?

I was just wondering if anyone had any stories. I know that there are threads in the FT dungeons that I've managed to find, but I was curious to read any stories from current members? And maybe some people have new tales of woe & malpractice.

I'm planning to be a physician down the road & 2 of my parents are physicians. We've been asked for aid only once on a flight, some patient was having a panic attack & my stepdad helped out.

Anyways, do y'all have any stories you'd like to share? Thanks! ^
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