In-flight emergencies raise concerns about airlines’ medical kit requirements

Matt Luptk was flying with his 11-year-old daughter, Sophia, when his eyes began to swell and his airway began to close.

“I knew an EpiPen was all I needed,” Luptk said. “The flight attendant tells me, ‘We don’t have those.'”

Commercial airlines are required by the Federal Aviation Administration to carry an emergency medical kit, which includes epinephrine to treat allergic reactions. But they don’t require it to be in pre-measured doses that are easier to administer using a device like an EpiPen.

“I just kept thinking that I was going to lose my daughter,” Luptak said.

Luckily, a doctor on board was able to measure out the correct pediatric dose of epinephrine from the kit and Sophia survived.

“I would never wish for another parent to go through this feeling,” Luptk said.

According to a 2019 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an in-flight medical emergency occurs in approximately one out of every 600 flights. Less than 10% of these flight emergencies require a flight change.

In 2019, the Aerospace Medical Association, which advises the FAA, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended additional items in the kit, including an electronic blood pressure cuff, an auto-injector for epinephrine, pediatric doses of epinephrine, antihistamines, and pain relievers. is of.

Dr Brian Moore, who advised on the recommendations, said: “These are small changes that can make the difference between life and death for a child.”

The FAA told CBS News that it is “currently reviewing emergency medical kit requirements” and that “making changes will require a rulemaking process.”

CBS News reached out to seven major US airlines and all of them said their medical kits comply with FAA requirements. All seven airlines said passenger safety is their top priority and flight attendants are also trained to handle medical emergencies.

Here’s what each airline said about its onboard emergency medical kit:

Alaska Airlines Said its kit includes “dozens and dozens of medications, types of medical equipment, bandages and dressings” as well as “standard items” that might be in a home emergency medical kit. Its kit also includes auto-injectors for epinephrine, atropine, dextrose, epinephrine, and lidocaine.

American Airlines Said its kit “contains supplies that are and exceed those required by the FAA.”

Delta Airlines Said its kit “exceeded the minimum essentials” required by the FAA and that its kit included atropine, dextrose, epinephrine and lidocaine. It said its kit does not include auto-injectors for epinephrine, but does have a vial of epinephrine and a syringe. “This summer, we began adding high-quality diagnostic equipment on all aircraft, including automated blood pressure cuffs, medical-grade stethoscopes and pulse oximeters and a temporal thermometer,” the airline said.

jetblue said its kit “exceeds FAA requirements and includes an epinephrine auto-injector.” “Despite waivers for some medications due to worldwide shortages, JetBlue makes every effort (with our business partner) to stock all medications,” the airline said.

Southwest Airlines stated that each aircraft “has a comprehensive on-board medical kit. We follow all Federal Aviation Administration guidance related to essential medications.”

Spirit Airlines said its kits “comply with federal requirements and contain epinephrine.”

United Airlines Said its kit has “provisions above and beyond federal requirements.”

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