In Front of Many Onlookers

Physician passengers may suddenly find themselves in a difficult environment, in front of many onlookers, managing conditions they do not normally treat.

—UpToDate, “Management of inflight medical emergencies on commercial airlines”

Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and, less often, diarrhea are commonly reported inflight complaints. Pain, nausea, and vomiting can sometimes be attributed directly to air travel, with the change in barometric pressure, dry air, noise, and vibration of the plane, dehydration, and poor diet.

—UpToDate, “Management of inflight medical emergencies on commercial airlines”

Interestingly, all commercial planes with a flight attendant and weighing than 7500lbs are mandated by the FAA to carry an “Enhanced Medical Kit.” (The basic kit includes bandages, splints, compresses, antiseptic swabs, tape, scissors, and ammonia inhalants.)


  • Aspirin tablets: 325 mg
  • Antihistamine (diphenhydramine) tablets: 25 mg
  • Antihistamine (diphenhydramine), 50 mg injectable single dose
  • Atropine: 0.5 mg, single 5 mL
  • Dextrose 50 percents/50 mL injectable
  • Epinephrine 1:1,000 (for IM injection)
  • Epinephrine 1:10,000, 2 mL injectable
  • Inhaled bronchodilator (metered dose or equivalent)
  • Lidocaine: 5 mL, 20 mg/mL
  • Nitroglycerine tablets: 0.4 mg
  • Non-narcotic analgesic
  • Saline solution, 500 mL
  • Instructions for medications


  • Automated external defibrillator
  • Sphygmomanometer
  • Stethoscope
  • Oropharyngeal airways
  • Latex gloves or equivalent
  • Syringes
  • Needles
  • IV administration kit with tubing and connectors
  • Self-inflating manual resuscitation device (AMBU bag) with masks
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) masks

Some United States airlines have enhanced EMKs containing additional acute cardiac life support drugs and equipment.

—UpToDate, “Management of inflight medical emergencies on commercial airlines”

I love it! Enhanced Enhanced Medical Kits!

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