Legalities in Flight Emergencies - page 3

Let's say you are an RN passenger on an airplane and an announcement is made asking all medical professionals to assist in a medical emergency. What if your experience as a nurse is not in critical... Read More

  1. by   Medic_Murse
    Quote from MNRNBSN
    Since following ZDoggMD on Facebook
    I lost you here (I'm familiar with his youtube channel). Look, I like the music videos and the fact he is not a fan of Dr. Oz. Outside of that, I don't know the guy, I don't know how respected of a Dr. he is, etc. Use your own judgement, if it is something you are not familiar with or uncomfortable with, express your limitations (as stated by others). Just because you are a nurse, doesn't mean you're going to save everyone. I've worked more than my fair share of CPR's and other critical situations and the fact is...people are going to die (at worst). If it's by the hands of someone that has experience or not. At the very least, you're a nurse, you have the basic skills to assess someone, and have BLS training, the worst that can happen is you bouncing up and down on someones chest. The rest of it is up to luck (from a critical patient standpoint).

    With that said, if you choose not to respond, don't feel guilty. This isn't a movie and not every individual that works in the field can respond to everything that is thrown at them. Don't feel guilty, you can only do so much. It's not like someone throws a RN symbol in the sky, you run to the bathroom to change into your scrubs and....BAM! SUPER RN!
  2. by   nursej22
    I have heard the request for medical personnel twice in the past 12 months, but both times someone else responded. Mostly because dh insists on sitting in the rear of the plane. But the first time there was a call for a glucometer from the passengers, which I don't see on the FDA list. dh now packs one in his carry-on, just in case.
  3. by   Elaine M
    I flew Cathay Pacific from LAX to Hong Kong in 2000 and responded to an emergency. They didn't have a urinary catheter with a balloon so I made do. They also didn't have a couple other things, but they weren't anything life threatening. I could have run a code with the meds available. I was really impressed with their emergency bag.
  4. by   Legonurse
    Ask the crew if they have an 'indemnity form'. Many airlines carry a form of this nature but will not automatically offer it. In other words, all you need to do is ask.
  5. by   hherrn
    I would take the lead, assist, or stand out of the way depending on the qualifications and skill levels of other responders. I would do this with absolutely no fear of consequences.

    My take on this is a bit different as I am an ER RN as well as EMT, and am comfortable dealing with emergencies outside of a hospital. That being said: Anybody, whether trained as a CNA or a trauma surgeon, can be in over their head in certain situations. The expectation is that you do your best. Believe me, I do not want to encounter a breech birth in an airplane bathroom. On the other hand, a simple cardiac arrest laying in the aisle and it's game on.

    Could I be sued, or held legally accountable? Absolutely. Just like I could every day at work. I am not "under" my hospital's insurance, or legal protection. Nobody is. You think I did a bad job taking care of you, call Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe to get an estimate of what your case is worth.

    Is it likely I will be sued for volunteering to help a fellow passenger on an airplane? No. That type of case is rare, and I would have to do something pretty egregious for it to happen. Law makers, judges, and juries want you to help them if the need it. On the other hand, if you do compressions on the face and try to ventilate the chest after you removed the AED pads to prevent an electrical shock- well, that could cause a problem.

    As luck would have it, if Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe manage to successful sue me for all I am worth, they will get 1/3 of not much. Maybe net enough for a box of those big yellow pads. So they probably won't take the case.

    There is some degree of risk in everything I do. I am planning on driving my car, paddling a kayak, and operating a BBQ grill today. I feel that all of these present more potential risk to my well being then helping out on an airplane.

    As an nurse, a PT often has a a negative outcome despite my doing my best. It really does not bother me. On the other hand, a fellow human being having a negative outcome because I didn't even try? That would bother me.
  6. by   broughden
    Quote from MNRNBSN
    I think the reason this prompted me to worry was because I recently just attended a medical emergency at a restaraunt and felt very helpless when the staff just left me to deal with it on my own.
    You're an RN. You might not work trauma or ED, but the basics are still the same that you learned in your first semester of nursing school....ABC, vitals, head to toe eval, etc. Treat what you find to the best of your ability.

    If you are really that nervous about treating emergent situations I'd suggest taking the ACLS class or even a Wilderness First Responder or Wilderness Medicine for the Professional Practitioner course through the NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute. The course may or may not apply as CEU in your state. But learning to treat emergent medical problems in the wilderness setting with a lack of supplies and facilities is relevant to treating them in most nonhospital situations.
  7. by   PPediRN
    Exactly ONE pair of gloves. Hope they fit.
  8. by   AnnieOaklyRN

    Does anyone know for sure if any communication with the doctor on the ground is recorded? I would assume it is... One would hope.

  9. by   broughden
    Quote from AnnieOaklyRN

    Does anyone know for sure if any communication with the doctor on the ground is recorded? I would assume it is... One would hope.

    I can already a picture a SNL skit based on this scenario....

    Computer: "Thank you for calling OhCrap Air Emergency Hotline. This call may be recorded for training and quality purposes. Please press 1 if your patient may be experiencing a cardiac emergency, to be connect to our OhCrap Air Emergency Cardiac Response Team. Please press 2 if your patient is experiencing a pulmonary emergency..."
    Dermatology Nurse: Desperately mashing the 1 button
    Computer: "Im sorry but I do not understand your request. Please press 2 if your patient is experiencing a pulmonary emergency, to be connected to our OhCrap Air Emergency Pulmonary Response Team. Please press 3 if your patient is giving birth, to be connected to our OhCrap OB Response Team."
    Dermatology Nurse: still madly pressing 1
    Computer: "I did not understand your selection. Let me connect you with one of our customer service agents."
    Dr Karen: (Obvious Indian Male Accent) "Hello this is Dr. Karen speaking who do I have the pleasure of speaking with and how may I help you today?"
    Dermatology Nurse: "Dr...Karen? I have a 60 year old male patient with a history of myocardial infarction, pulse is weak and rapid..."
    Dr Karen: "I am sorry but before we get started today I need to know your full name, and your OhCrap Air Emergency account number so that we can access your records."
    Dermatology Nurse: "What!?!?"

    Given all of my past encounters with phone based customer care this is exactly how I picture this call going...
  10. by   Julius Seizure
    Quote from PPediRN
    Exactly ONE pair of gloves. Hope they fit.
    Whenever there is only one pair of gloves supplied, they are guaranteed to be one-size-fits-nobody.
  11. by   KelRN215
    Quote from AnnieOaklyRN

    Does anyone know for sure if any communication with the doctor on the ground is recorded? I would assume it is... One would hope.

    I would assume so. Isn't all communication between airplanes and the ground recorded?
  12. by   Elaken
    I read an article recently about this and essentially they were saying if you have any experience than you should volunteer. Because the odds are you will be more comfortable with terminology and with any requests that the ground medical doctor asks than some layperson. Can you imagine giving an IM as someone whose whole experience is just BLS? Definitely make your level of experience clear though. What scares me is I am rubbish at IVs so the patient would be screwed if they need fluid.

    Also the concern is a lot of the talk of the laws is regarding American companies. If you are flying on a company registered in a different country and flying from one non-American country to another the laws might be very different.