Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Did you year about the 44 year old diabetic woman who died on an American Airlines flight from Haiti to NYC?

Of course, only her intimates and physician know the true nature of her medical history, but in my opinion, if this fragile woman was likely to die from a lack of oxygen on an airplane, she should not have traveled via that means of conveyance. Seriously. The article mentions that in addition to diabetes, the woman suffered from heart disease. How often do we hear of 88-year olds dropping dead on commercial flights? Not very often. Um, if you're unhealthy, maybe you should keep your ass home and not burden non-medical-professionals with the dilemma of how to treat your medical crisis at 37,000 feet, ya think?

Of course, it's a sad, heart-rending story, and it's sad for someone to expire so early in life. However, if the airline had caused this woman's death, then you'd be hearing stories like this in the news every day of the week.

I feel for the cabin crew, and I feel for the airline, because they'll never hear the end of this. The fact is that unhealthy people fly all the time and don't drop dead in transit, generally speaking. In fact, every person who travels via commercial aircraft is statistically more likely to die in the car to- and from- the airport than they are on the plane.

I just hope this doesn't end up in a lawsuit thing. I can just see a spate of Weekend-at-Bernie's style copy-cat hijinks wherein scheisters try to capitalize on gravely ill associates in order to bilk airlines in wrongful death suits.

The Nineties had the $3 million dollar McDonald's coffee spill. This could be the new thing for the Oughties. *much eyerolling here*


Anonymous said...

Why didn't she bring her own oxygen? I mean at least make the air lines aware of the fact that she was sick. And, if she was THAT sick she should'a stayed home.

A lawsuit would be ridiculous!

I agree it's sad, but come on people, stay home if you're that sick.

Christina RN LMT said...

You bet there's going to be a lawsuit.

In the article, it said that only after the other passengers got "agitated" did the flight attendant try to find oxygen for her.
So it must have been pretty disturbing, little old lady, "Help me, I can't breathe, why won't you help me?!" Heartless (appearing!) flight attendant, "Ma'am, please stay in your seat, we'll do what we can...(actually, insert whatever platitude YOU imagine she might say)"
Then, after fellow, medically-trained passengers labor over her for who knows how long, little old lady croaks.
Regardless of the fact that she never should have got on the plane, the lawyers will whip out the violins and the jury will be boo-hooing into their hankies.
You know it.

phlegmfatale said...

lainy - why, indeed? Yes, ludicrous to sue. If she knew she was in danger of death, why'd she get on the plane? The one hope is that the airline can track down passengers who flew next to her down TO Haiti and see if she had trouble on that flight-- if she did, then they can prove it was irresponsible of her to get on the plane back to NYC.

christina - but 44 is NOT an old lady. I think she died of her heart condition, and I suspect that no team in the air or on the ground could have saved her.

Anonymous said...

The bereaved family is just doing what they think is best for the memory of their loved one. They wants 'em some crash cash.

Christina RN LMT said...

Sorry, Phlegm. I misread and thought she was in her EIGHTIES.
My bad.
Even so, a lawsuit is in the future, for sure.

phlegmfatale said...

myron - it's what ya do, eh?

christina - s'ok, babe. I meant that even folks twice that age don't routinely drop dead on flights. At least I think it would be in the news more often if they did.

Rabbit said...

I'm involved with folks who pushed to get personal portable oxygen concentrators approved for airline passengers' use as the FAA generally prohibits compressed, concentrated, or liquid oxygen use or transport on board commercial aircraft.
POC's are reasonably well available and not hideously expensive. They are also considered 'assist devices' by most airlines and are not counted toward the total baggage allowed per person.

I suspect that if she had the money to make an international flight then she probably had enough to rent a concentrator. Planes are generally pressurized to 8K feet ASL levels. Even with my lung issues I'm comfortable on flights. I suspect that her underlying heart disease along with other health issues were most assuredly the cause. The flight is simply the red herring for the family to try to collect. I understand three physicians aided her, but she was DRT. Flight time to Miami from Haiti isn't that long. She was probably arresting before she boarded.


phlegmfatale said...

rabbit - wow, excellent points, all. I hope they are not successful in capitalizing on her sad demise.

FHB said...

Everything gets a court day these days. Next thing you'll be tellin' us that folks at McDonalds shouldn't have to test the temp of their coffee before they try to drive with it in their lap. Sheeesh.

Liz said...

I just finished a CPR class. The pediatrician is quoted as saying her pulse was too weak for the defibrillator to work. Dude, you NEVER use a defib on someone with a pulse. They drilled into us over and over that it's only for use on people who do NOT have a pulse.

Unknown said...

It sounds like if she was that sick, then she should've had her own supply of oxygen. That being said, I can't imagine why the flight attendants should have to be asked twice if someone says they can't breathe. I thought it was interesting that they asked to have the plane land right away-- I wonder what the protocol and conditions are for that (had she not actually died on the way)?