In-flight psychiatric emergencies

Aviat Space Environ Med. 2001 Oct;72(10):919-23.


Background: Although studies have been published regarding airline in-flight medical emergencies, there is a lack of any specific studies about in-flight psychiatric emergencies. This study seeks to ascertain the incidence of in-flight psychiatric emergencies, their associated factors, and outcomes.

Methods: All in-flight calls for physician consultation to MedAire, a leading medical resource for airlines, during 1997 were reviewed for psychiatric symptomatology.

Results: Of 1375 consultations, 3.5% were characterized as psychiatric, with a large majority (90%) of these cases presenting primarily as acute anxiety. Most of the psychiatric cases (69%) required arrangements for the passenger to be evaluated on arrival, and three cases required emergency flight diversion and landing.

Conclusions: This study suggests that an anxiolytic agent with a rapid onset may be indicated for the on-board medical kit.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aerospace Medicine*
  • Anxiety* / therapy
  • Emergency Treatment
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperventilation / therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Phobic Disorders / therapy
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy
  • Telemedicine*