American Association of Nurse Practitioners’ (AANP) President Joyce Knestrick, PhD, APRN, CFNP, FAANP, has addressed a recent in-flight health emergency in which an NP was not permitted to properly assist a patient.

A licensed NP was aboard an American Airlines flight when the crew immediately called for a medical professional to treat a passenger in distress. The NP asked to use the onboard medical kit to assist the passenger but was only provided with a stethoscope and blood pressure cuff. The NP was informed that American Airlines policy only allows certain healthcare professionals access to the aircraft’s medical kits in emergency situations. This policy specifically prevents NPs and physician assistants (PAs) from access to equipment, including defibrillators, to provide emergency care.

Dr Knestrick wrote a letter to Doug Parker, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, American Airlines Group Inc, in which she urged Parker to reconsider the airline’s policy given the current trends in the healthcare industry and the clinical training and expertise of NPs to assist in similar emergencies.

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“Given the many heroic stories of healthcare professionals, numerous NPs among them, saving lives aboard airline flights, it is my sincerest hope to clarify your company’s policy and engage in a deeper conversation to explore strategies to ensure healthcare providers, including NPs and PAs, are given the necessary tools to provide appropriate and necessary emergency care to American Airlines’ passengers while in flight,” Dr Knestrick stated.

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AANP Responds to American Airlines Incident [press release]. American Association of Nurse Practitioners. January 2018. Accessible at: