Airline Medical Emergencies

Due to all these residency interviews, I am flying much more often than I am used to! I sometimes imagine the inflight intercom interjecting, “Is there a doctor on board?” Such a call would rise within me an awesome terror! As a medical student, it would be alarming to answer the call but also exciting because as a fourth year, you do know enough to be helpful!

I wanted to be prepared for such a case and as a future family physician I thought it would be smart to look up research on the matter. The article, Outcomes of Medical Emergencies on Commercial Airline Flights by Peterson DC et al. found in the New England Journal of Medicine came out in May 2013. I recommend reading it especially for the last section which provides specific recommendations for physicians when something happens during a flight.


The article was a short and insightful read and in response I could not help but try to create an infographic for the findings!

Infographics are fun yet informative ways people can disseminate information quickly. A high quality infographic can be distributed and read much more quickly than a text-heavy article. Moreover, well-created visuals can transmit information much more successfully than text alone.

I created the graphics on Adobe illustrator and attempted to use the really popular “flat design” that is so ubiquitous these days.  I had fun creating the illustrations and practicing some vector art! Enjoy and save some lives!

In-flight medical emergencies

At the end of the New England Journal article there is a short table that describes recommendations for physicians during in-flight medical emergencies. They have general recommendations and detailed guides for syncope and chest pain. One thing to remember is that there are emergency medical kits (EMK) on a plane which contain stethoscopes, sphygmomanometers, IV sets, nitroglycerine, and many other useful things.

For more information please see the original research article:

For other research articles I found useful:

Go save a life!

In-flight medical emergencies

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