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Woman Dies on AA Flight Due to No Medical Equipment

Woman Dies on AA Flight Due to No Medical Equipment

Feb 25th, 2008, 06:12 AM
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Woman Dies on AA Flight Due to No Medical Equipment

A woman died on a AA flight from Haiti to New York despite the efforts of several healthcare professionals on board. During the flight she expressed distress and inability to breathe. Twice the FAs refused to give her oxygen. Finally other passengers, including more than one healthcare professional insisted and they tried to give her oxygen from two bottles - BOTH of which turned out to be empty. When she went into cardiac arrest the medical team attempted to use the on board defibrillator - which also was not working.

The plane diverted to Miami - but the woman was dead before the flight landed.

The airline made no comment.

What is going on here? Is anyone in charge?

I always avoided AA if possible due to their horrendous customer service - but now I would never consider flying them.
nytraveler is offline  
Feb 25th, 2008, 06:28 AM
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There is a "report" supposedly related by a "cousin" on the CNN website currently.

The "details" are rather vague IMO or perhaps it is the way in which the piece is worded.

There is talk of an attempt to administer CPR and then (later perhaps) the item says the person "collapsed and died" (and I hope that (the "collapse") happened BEFORE there was a CPR attempt!

Supposedly oxygen tanks were empty.

Supposedly a defibrillator did not work

"What is going on here?"

I wouldn't make any FINAL judgements until ALL the information has been sorted out.

Dukey is offline  
Feb 25th, 2008, 06:30 AM
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And, NYTraveler..you cannot say, definitively that the woman died "because" of "no medical equipment."
Dukey is offline  
Feb 25th, 2008, 07:53 AM
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Thank you for posting. I heard only one sentence on the radio about this story and wondered what they were talking about.
suze is offline  
Feb 25th, 2008, 10:17 AM
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Well- this report is from Newsday - a very well-respected newspaper.

And while I am not a forensic pathologist - and so can;t determine exactly the cause of death - when 2 phsyicians and 2 nurses on the flight are trying to administer oxygen from empty cannisters - and then try to use a non-functioning defbrillator to restart her heart - it is apparent that something is dreadfully wrong.

Perhaps she would have died anyway. But you can't do anything for a person whose heart had stopped with a non-working defibrillator.

What I find most surprising is that the airline refused to comment (a sure sign that they re circling the wagons).

Obviously we won;t find out all the details until after the FAA investigation.

(And pardon me for being suspicious of the airline's actions - but I was in a difficult situation with an airline myself. And they first denied that I had been on the flight (until CNN film proved otherwise). Then refused to admit anything had happened (until many of the passengers were interviewed). Then used the legal tactic of not admitting anything - ever - until the FAA investigated and fined them millions of dollar. They managed to drag the lawsuits (from over 100 passengers) out for several years until the judge demanded they go to trial. They then settled - so none of the details would go on the public record of a trial.)
nytraveler is offline  
Feb 25th, 2008, 10:42 AM
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Healthcare provider perspective I'd bet woman had underlying cardias or respiratory or both chronic conditions.
When you get on a plane...very little anyone can do if you become ACUTELY ill..having transported medivac people over years I can tell you if you become medicaly unstable onboard a plane very little healthcare providers can do...Military medevac transports are different. They have critical care healthcare providers with a full complement of medications..and always maintained equipment
Whether or not the O2 and defilberlator wrked or not really probably would not have made a difference.
Having said that it would be appropriate to always having fully functioning equipment..
Cudos to the Airline pilots, healthcare professiona nad flight attendant..it was no doubt a very difficult circumstance..
1JAR is offline  
Feb 25th, 2008, 11:17 AM
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CNN reports the woman had a history of heart disease . . judging from the the photo of her she was also very overweight..
Rich is offline  
Feb 25th, 2008, 02:58 PM
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"What I find most surprising is that the airline refused to comment (a sure sign that they re circling the wagons)."

Huh? What I would find surprising would be if they DID comment. What sensible organization that appears could be on the edge of a major liability issue would make any comments?

But I'm not making excuses. Why on earth wouldn't the defibrillator work? And why would the oxygen tanks be empty?
NeoPatrick is offline  
Feb 25th, 2008, 03:09 PM
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Oxygen and defib were working; a doctor was on board and administered to the pax, who died despite best efforts.

Stories grow exponentially in cases like this.
Gardyloo is offline  
Feb 25th, 2008, 04:14 PM
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Betcha that the lawyers are already licking their chops in anticipation.
gb944 is offline  
Feb 25th, 2008, 04:25 PM
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On the news they said, there is an ongoing investigation, so officially the AA can't comment.

The woman's family said there was no oxygen in whatever they'd kept it on board.
FainaAgain is offline  
Feb 25th, 2008, 04:35 PM
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As a family member of someone who died of cardiac arrest on an airplane, how would YOU know if there was no oxygen in the canisters? You couldn't smell it.

This is going to be a case for Snopes. Wait awhile and check them out.
jtrandolph is offline  
Feb 25th, 2008, 04:44 PM
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What a difficult situation. My heart goes out to this family.

I do have to add that, even in a hospital with all kinds of medical help available, the chances of walking out of a hospital after a cardiac arrest are slim. According to OSHA, survival rates for out-of-hospital cardiac arrests are only 1 - 5%.
KTtravel is offline  
Feb 25th, 2008, 04:51 PM
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Defibrillator, when attached makes a determination if it is needed. The report I have seen states it was attached but not needed so it did not shock. Not a malfunction. Sorry for the woman and her family but give the airlines a break, they are not a ambulance service and whatever happens at 30,000 feet is at best only a good attempt. Any and all attempts to revive the women should be applauded, successful or not.
KarolYu is offline  
Feb 25th, 2008, 05:00 PM
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Since when is it the airlines responsibility to provide healthcare?

I'd just be happy to get from point A to point B without any aggrivation.

I don't fault the airlines for anything in this situation.
Feb 25th, 2008, 05:04 PM
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The woman was obese and had high blood pressure.

The notion that "AA killed her" is ludicrous.

Unfortunately, I'm sure a pack of ambulance chasers is convincing the family to sue the airline -- which ultimately raises prices for all of us.
Gekko is offline  
Feb 25th, 2008, 05:18 PM
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Putting aside whether she had pre-existing heart problems (and I'm sure if someone suggested that the airlines have a right to prohibit people with pre-existing medical problems from traveling, they'd all be jumping up and down about their "rights", while still wanting to hold the airline responsible), unless it could be proven that the lack of oxygen (if true, and I doubt it) or the failure of the defibrillator (if true, and I doubt that, too) were the cause of death, no dice. That doesn't mean, as gekko said, that there weren't 50 lawyers on the phone to her family this afternoon.

The legal question is one of duty. What if she collapsed on floor of a shopping center? Or in a restaurant? Or on the street? In those cases, it would be the right thing to do for the business or someone else to call an ambulance (not possible of course when you're 30,000 feet in the air), but it's not necessarily legally actionable if they fail to do so. I don't know what the law says is the airline's duty to the passenger, but I'm sure we'll find out
Feb 25th, 2008, 05:23 PM
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For the reason that people can have medical emergencies aboard US (I don;t know about foreign) airlines are required to carry oxygen and a defibrillator aboard. Since they MAY be able to keep a patient alive long enough to get them on the ground.

Obviously if someone has a massive coronary it probably won't help. But the story states that the woman was in distress for some time and asked for oxygen a couple of times and was refused by the FA - until other passengers became concerned and the oxygen was then brought.

The story I read was clear that both oxygen tanks were empty. I suppose we won;t find out the truth until an investigation is completed.

But, as I said, the story was reported in Newsday - and apparently on CNN - not in the Enquirer.
nytraveler is offline  
Feb 25th, 2008, 05:29 PM
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Oxygen is flammable -- and oxygen tanks are bombs.

Why in the world would a passenger plane be carrying 2 oxygen tanks in the 1st place?

And if "we" are going to require airplanes to carry oxygen tanks and defibrillators, why stop there? Every airplane should have a fully-staffed and prepped OR ready for service! Call Ralph Nader immediately!

Gekko is offline  

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