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"Is There A Doctor Onboard?"  
User currently offlineLoneStarMike From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 4028 posts, RR: 31
Posted (14 years 7 months 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 1738 times:

Does anyone remember the case of the doctor who was onboard the American Airlines flight and helped out in a medical emergency? He later billed American Airlines for his services and when they refused to pay, he took them to small claims court. He lost the case, which really isn't surprising considering AA's experienced legal team.

Around that time, there was an article published in the BBC News regarding incdents like this. The doctors proposed a plan whereby they would identify themselves to the airline as a doctor when they checked in for their flight and would offer their services in case of a medical emergency, in exchange for an upgrade. They also would agree not to drink any alchoholic beverages on the flight in case their services were needed later.

Here is the article:

Flying doctors want automatic upgrades


What's your opinion on this? Should the airlines take the doctors up on their offer, or, since the F/A is there "primarily for our safety", should the doctors just let the airline personnel take care of situations like this?


8 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineCathay Pacific From Australia, joined May 2000, 1864 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (14 years 7 months 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 1716 times:

this really makes me sick.....why can some people be so insensitive????

cathay pacific, now you're really flying
User currently offline767-322ETOPS From United States of America, joined exactly 15 years ago today! , 324 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (14 years 7 months 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 1711 times:

I thought doctors have an ethical obligation to help out in an emergency regardless of whether they've been comped upgrades by the airline etc.

User currently offlineBy738 From St. Vincent and the Grenadines, joined Sep 2000, 2730 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (14 years 7 months 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 1697 times:

I am a doctor.
In theory you do have an ethical obligation, but when things do not work out for the best those that are ill have an ethical obligation, I think, not to sue you.
It depends on wether your medico-legal insurance covers you in these situations. Mine does, but I would still think twice.

User currently offlineSchreiner From Netherlands, joined Oct 2001, 960 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (14 years 7 months 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 1664 times:

Those docters are really sick in the brain... arrogant piece of shit... (not all of then offcourse)

Soaring the internet...
User currently offlineSN-A330 From Belgium, joined Aug 2001, 1129 posts, RR: 8
Reply 5, posted (14 years 7 months 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 1658 times:

I am with 767-322ETOPS ! I thought too it was an ethical obligation.

Here in Europe I would say no doubt about helping out in an emergency of whatever kind, but that might be different in the US (with the insurance issues).

Regards, SN-A330

I would rather be flying...
User currently offlineAking8488 From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 129 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (14 years 7 months 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 1634 times:

There has been case law where the physician could seek damages from the patient (after the fact) and win under restitution. For this situation, I'm guessing the passenger didn't have the deep pockets AA did. I'm surprised the lawyer took plaintiff's case given that AA in now way was involved in the physician's direct medical care.

User currently offlineLMML 14/32 From Malta, joined Jan 2001, 2566 posts, RR: 6
Reply 7, posted (14 years 7 months 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 1615 times:

In my humble opinion, any doctor is legally bound to make himself available in case of an emergency. Especially in an in-flight environment where medical help can be hour away. It is, of course, only ethical on the airline's side to offer some sort of compensation. In this case this should NEVER be money, but instead a free flight or an upgrade next time or something similar. I do not know what prompted the doctor in the leader of this post to bill the airline - whether the airline simply ignored his act or whether the doctor billed the airline immediately on arrival. But to me whatever the case, this doctor really stooped low. I do not agree with doctors making themselves known on check in for an upgrade as this amounts to payment in advance for services which may never be rendered after all.

User currently offlineMas777 From United Kingdom, joined Jul 1999, 2939 posts, RR: 6
Reply 8, posted (14 years 7 months 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 1545 times:

As a doctor who travels regularly, I have been called to two emergencies. For one case, I was able to rule out anything serious and therefore adviced the captain that we may continue our short flight. On the second occasion however, I returned the BA 747 back to Kuala Lumpur in order to off-load a very sick passenger and his family as the passenger was having a heart attack. We were only 15 minutes out of KUL at the time.

Note that on both occasions - I ADVISED the captain as a medic. On the first occasion - I did not expect anything in return as the passenger was clearly not in need of urgent medical assistance and simple advice sufficed.

On the second occasion however, a BA steward actually came up to me in my seat and asked me to help as I had checked-in under the DR. name. It took some time taking a history, examining the passenger and forming a differential diagnosis, given the constraints of doing it in seat 40B or wherever he was. Setting up intravenous access for the attending medics on return to KUL and administering vital emergency drugs on board - was all NOT part of the contract with BA when I purchased my ticket.

I offered help as I know I am covered medico-legally on board any British carrier as a practising British physician but given the constraints and legal issues surrounding the matter - I would always think twice. Little do many realise that doctors are not necessarily covered by the so-called 'Good Samaritan' act and should a wrong diagnosis and/or treatment be given - the attending 'doctor' is liable. Given the circumstances of the fact that there may not be another medically qualified person on-board at the time - the doctor standing in the dock in court would have very little to back himself with - should things go wrong.

As the captain announced the delay on that flight, I was flabbergasted by the sigh of dismay by the other 300-odd passengers who seem to have blamed me for considering returning to KUL - and not acknowledge the fact that I made the decision on the life at stake. All many passengers seemed to care about was their connecting flights and the atmosphere in the cabin is very different to seeing a patient in the Casualty department.

Note - I was not upgraded when we left KUL for the second time but received a verbal word of thanks from the captain and 2 bottles of champagne on arrival at London. As I was travelling in Club World, I wasn't expecting much in return and I think the majority of doctors would not think of financial rewards for the job done anyway. However, I don't really see why an upgrade should not be out of the question given that under usual circumstances, fees for healthcare services are payable and it is a doctor's perogative as a practising professional to charge if he feels necessary - much like a solicitor would or any other professional.

Also note that a BA staff member asked me to help on that second flight so I did not 'volunteer' as it were...

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