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In-flight Emergencies: Doc Riders in the Sky

Lawrence I. Bonchek, MD
JAMA. 1990;263(2):233-234. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440020067019.
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To the Editor.—  The recent article by Cummins and Schubach1 on medical emergencies among commercial air travelers points out helpfully that a "doctors only" medical kit containing a few essential drugs has been required by the Federal Aviation Administration on US commercial aircraft since August 1,1986.Perhaps it is worth pointing out to physicians traveling on international flights that in-flight emergency drugs are also available from other passengers on the same aircraft. Common drugs such as nitroglycerin, calcium channel blocking agents, tranquilizers, bronchodilators, etc, are so widely used that an announcement on the airplane loudspeaker will usually bring forth most necessary drugs in oral form.Some years ago, I was called to assist a middle-aged Englishman on a British Airways flight from London to New York. The man had a history of coronary disease and had developed unremitting (preinfarction) angina in midflight (beyond the point of no return). His


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