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Emergencies in the air
  1. A Qureshi1,
  2. K M Porter2
  1. 1Research Registrar, Selly Oak Hospital
  2. 2Consultant Trauma Surgeon & Immediate Care Practitioner, Selly Oak Hospital
  1. Correspondence to:
 K Porter
 Selly Oak Hospital, Selly Oak, Birmingham B29 6JD, UK;


Medical emergencies in the air are topical. This study, undertaken by the Faculty of Prehospital Care at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, analyses retrospectively consecutive medical emergencies occurring over a 6 month period on a single major international airline. Clinical problems are related to pre-existing problems (65%), new medical problems (28%), and traumatic injury (7%).

The paper highlights the need for better pre-flight health advice and screening, a reminder to carry personal medication—especially for asthma—and the need to include ankle and leg exercises prior to getting out of the seat to reduce the incidence of syncope, which was responsible for 91% of new medical problems.

  • medical emergencies
  • in flight
  • illness prevention

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