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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Management of In-Flight Medical Emergencies: Are Senior Medical Students Prepared to Respond to this Community Need?

  • Author(s): Katzer, Robert J.
  • Duong, David
  • Weber, Matthew
  • Memmer, Amy
  • Buchanan, Ian
  • et al.

Introduction: In-flight medical emergencies on commercial aircraft are common in both domestic and international flights. We hypothesized that fourth-year medical students feel inadequately prepared to lend assistance during in-flight medical emergencies. This multicenter study of two U.S. medical schools obtains a baseline assessment of knowledge and confidence in managing in-flight medical emergencies.

Methods: A 25-question survey was administered to fourth-year medical students at two United States medical schools. Questions included baseline knowledge of in-flight medicine (10 questions) and perceived ability to respond to in-flight medical emergencies.

Results: 229 participants completed the survey (75% response rate). The average score on the fund of knowledge questions was 64%. Responses to the 5-point Likert scale questions indicated that, on average, students did not feel confident or competent responding to an in-flight medical emergency. Participants on average also disagreed with statements that they had adequate understanding of supplies, flight crew training, and ground-based management.

Conclusion: This multicenter survey indicates that fourth-year medical students do not feel adequately prepared to respond to in-flight medical emergencies and may have sub-optimal knowledge. This study provides an initial step in identifying a deficiency in current medical education.  [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):–0.]


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