Try again. This contribution is a part of: Medical emergencies occur on 1 of every 604 flights http://usat.ly/133kAAD CancelSend Medical emergencies occur on 1 of every 604 flights Liz Szabo, USA TODAY 10:52 p.m. EDT May 29, 2013 One of the last places anyone wants to have a heart attack, or deliver a baby, is on board an aircraft. Only one-third of medical emergencies on airline flights end in death, according to a new study. (Photo: Brendan Smialowski, AFP/Getty Images) Story Highlights Most in-flight medical emergencies involve fainting or feeling light-headed In three of four emergencies, a health professional on board the flight steps forward to help Deaths are rare, partly because critically ill patients tend not to fly 411 CONNECT 151 TWEET 18 LINKEDIN 7 COMMENTEMAILMORE One of the last places anyone wants to have a heart attack or deliver a baby is on board an aircraft. In-flight medical emergencies occur in about 1 in every 604 flights, according to an article in today’s New England Journal of Medicine. Considering that 2.75 billion passengers fly on commercial airlines a year, that works out to about 44,000 in-flight emergencies a year, and nearly 50 a day in the USA alone. Only one-third of 1% of these emergencies end in death, according to the study, which examined calls to a medical communications center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The center is one of two in the USA where emergency physicians advise flight crews on how to help patients. A similar center is located in Phoenix. About one in four patients went to emergency rooms after landing, and 8% were admitted to the hospital. Only 7% of emergencies required airplanes to be diverted, the study says. Only 11 of the 11,920 in-flight emergencies examined in the study involved women in late pregnancy who were in labor. Flights were diverted in three of those cases. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology says air travel is generally safe for women up to the 36th week of pregnancy. In three out of four emergencies, trained health professionals aboard the plane came forward to help. Doctors helped in nearly half of cases, and nurses provided care in 20% of emergencies. Help during in-flight emergencies New England Journal of Medicine Cathy Payne, USA TODAY Emergency physician Benjamin Abella has assisted patients with in-flight emergencies three times twice on board a plane and once on the ground, after a 60-year-old man who had suffered a cardiac arrest just before take-off was brought to his emergency room. That man survived because the plane was equipped with an automated external defibrillator, or AED, Abella says. A paramedic onboard used the AED to provide an electrical shock, which got the man’s heart beating again. After a few weeks in the hospital, the man made a full recovery. Flight attendants are trained to use AEDs and have medical kits on board, says co-author Christian Martin-Gill, an emergency physician at Pittsburgh’s medical communications center. Alex Isakov, a physician in the emergency room at Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital, has assisted patients on three international flights. He asked that the pilot make an early landing only once, because a woman with gastrointestinal bleeding was at risk of bleeding to death.
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