Feeling Ill? Stay On the Ground
Airlines, staff are only modestly equipped to respond to medical emergencies in the air
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 27, 2008 5:55 PM CST
An automatic external defibrillator like the ones carried on commercial passenger aircraft.   ((c) ernstl)
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(Newser) – In the wake of the death last week of a passenger on an American Airlines jet, one expert on in-flight health has this to say to sickly would-be travelers: “Do not fly.” Air travel can exacerbate illness, and though many airlines contract with ground-based medical support, flight attendants are not nurses, and airplanes often have only minimal medical equipment aboard, CNN reports.

Congress recently ordered all commercial passenger aircraft to carry defibrillators and robust first-aid kits, but the Federal Aviation Administration has no part in mid-air medical emergencies. Instead, companies such as Arizona-based MedAire maintain physicians and translation services on the ground to assist airborne staff. Problems to look out for? Respiratory conditions, stomach upset, cardiac episodes.