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How to airlines treat mid-flight medical emergencies?

Like many Californians, you may feel anxious when you fly, knowing that your safety depends on the capability of the pilot and the rest of the flight crew, as well as all the mechanical parts of your plane being in working order. You may already feel as if you lack control in the best of situations. How helpless would you feel if you suffered a medical emergency in the middle of your flight? What does the crew do in situations like these?

According to MarketWatch, mid-flight medical emergencies are not an uncommon occurrence – in fact, medical emergencies occur on airplanes every day. You do not hear about most of them in the news because commercial airplanes must contain emergency medical kits and defibrillators, and flight crews are trained in basic first aid and handling many emergency situations. Additionally, doctors and nurses are often passengers. When this is the case, they are frequently able to help.

When a medical emergency occurs in the middle of a flight, pilots are supposed to relay the emergency to the ground crew. Many airlines have medical professionals on staff to consult and help them instruct the pilot on what to do. Ultimately, the pilot can make the final decision on whether to make an emergency landing or continue the flight. You may be surprised to learn that some are hesitant to interrupt the flight, because they may be pressured by airlines to avoid a costly diversion.

In one case, a 25-year-old woman died of a pulmonary embolism that she developed during an American Airlines flight from Hawaii to Texas. A doctor on board had recommended the plane land early, but it continued to its original destination. The woman’s family is suing the airline. Pilots have a grave responsibility for the passengers on their planes. In some cases, their decisions may end up harming others. This information is meant to educate you, but it should not replace the advice of a lawyer.

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