Assisting With Air Travel Medical Emergencies: Responsibilities and Pitfalls (Ethics CME) | Digest
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Assisting With Air Travel Medical Emergencies: Responsibilities and Pitfalls

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Points and Pearls Excerpt

  • Aircraft cabins are typically pressurized to the equivalent of about 8000 ft, resulting in a 4- to 10-point drop in O2 saturation in healthy adults. Passengers may experience myalgias, fatigue, and generalized discomfort on long-haul flights.
  • Only 50% of the cabin air is recirculated. When recirculated, it is subjected to HEPA filtration, which is adequate to prevent infection by airborne pathogens but not the infectious respiratory viruses, which are spread by droplets.
  • On long flights, dehydration is likely due to inadequate water intake and the increased use of diuretics such as caffeine and alcohol.
  • There is approximately 1 in-flight emergency per 11,000 passengers, or 1 in 604 flights. Syncope and cardiac events are most common, followed by gastrointestinal, respiratory, and neurologic events.

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Publication Information
Authors

Matthew DeLaney, MD, FACEP, FAAEM; Christopher Greene, MD, MPH

Peer Reviewed By

Jeffery Hill, MD, MEd; Ryan Knight, MD

Publication Date

September 1, 2019

CME Expiration Date

October 1, 2022

Pub Med ID: 31461612

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