Dr Bruce Elliott

Posts Tagged ‘basilar artery thrombosis

What is your success rate? How common are inflight emergencies?

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International Medevac Success Rate for Dr Bruce Elliott 2007-2012
Doctors rarely take patients on planes unless they’re confident it’s safe to do so, although sometimes the circumstances force your hand. Most of my patients are at increased risk but still make it back to the UK without any problems.  However inflight medical emergencies do happen and they can be awkward to treat with limited resources and high workload.

It’s statistically more likely for me to find myself dealing with random inflight emergencies on other passengers who just happen to get sick. With those included I deal on average with one inflight emergency for every ten medevacs.  This probably explains the wide range of medical emergencies you can see in the pie chart below.

All of these inflight emergencies had happy endings apart from one, which needed emergency surgery on the ground for which a well known British Airline refused to divert. Sadly that young girl ended up with chronic disability.

Inflight Emergencies on International Medevacs Dr Bruce Elliott 2007-2012

But I’ve had some fairly spectacular results, including a catastrophic stroke in a 91 year old half an hour out of Heathrow who was sitting up in bed reading the Telegraph four hours later (we blue-lighted him to a stroke centre to inject ‘clot-buster’ into his basilar artery thrombosis) and a 19 year old girl whose blood pressure dropped dangerously low over the Australian outback due to a heart rate of 250 which required a maneuvre to stop her heart for ten seconds to reset it. Thankfully it did start again in a normal rhythm and we avoided diverting an Airbus A380’s worth of passengers.

So in summary, 91% of my patients get to their destination safely, 5% deteriorate or die before I can get to them and 4% have inflight emergencies on the way back (all of whom have survived). I keep in touch with most of my patients after they get home until they’re back to full fitness. I also try to Tweet on medevacs when I’ve got mobile coverage.

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