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When the call button calls: A hospitalist's thoughts on delivering care at 30,000 feet


I spend a lot of time on airplanes. And - surprise, surprise - I also spend a fair amount of time traveling with doctors on airplanes. So I am at once sympathetic both to people who experience medical difficulties in flight and to the physicians who, by way of a call button, are summoned to help them.

I was, therefore, quite taken by a fascinating blog post by Bob Wachter, MD, describing the tensions of delivering in-flight care:

I'm guessing that the average packed Boeing 777 has at least a handful of doctor-passengers. When the call comes for a physician, I'm sure a few mutter, "no f-ing way" and go back to their Sudoku. But most, I think, respond like I do: we reach tentatively for our call button then, thinking better of it, stop, look around, start again, then finally push the damn thing. Even as we nobly hit the button, in our heart of hearts we hope that we're number two - our guilt assuaged but our services unneeded.

The rest of the entry is this morning's recommended reading.

Photo by Aaron Escobar
Via Kevin MD

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