In-flight medical emergencies study revealed

23 Jan 2009 by Mark Caswell

Fainting is the
most common medical condition experienced on European airlines, according to
research by the journal Critical Care.

The study – which
collated 10,189 cases recorded on two participating airlines between 2002 and
2007 – concluded that syncope (more commonly refered to as fainting) accounted
for 53.5 per cent of cases (5,307), followed by gastrointestinal disorders (8.9
per cent), and cardiac conditions (4.9 per cent).

“Fear of flying”
was recorded in a total of 460 cases, with “generalized pain” accounting for
432 cases. Other conditions included thrombosis, which accounted for 47 cases,
while there were 27 cases of appendicitis during the period.

The study also revealed that aircraft
diversion was required in 2.8 per cent of cases (279 in total), while a physician or medical professional was involved in providing therapy in 86 per cent of cases.

The Critical Care journal said that a total of 32
European airlines were asked to provide data on in-flight medical and surgical,
but “only four were able to provide the 
required  data  with 
adequate  medical  flight 
reports”, and “two  of  these 
did  not participate in the study
due to company policy”.

The report concludes that “although  aviation 
is  regulated  by  a variety  of 
national  and  international 
laws,  standardized  documentation 
of  in-flight medical and surgical
emergencies is inadequate and needs further development”.

For more information visit

Report by Mark Caswell

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