On a flight yesterday I had front row seats to watch two physicians spring into action. An elderly lady in my row fainted when she stood up to go to the bathroom. There was an immediate call over the intercom for any physicians, nurses, or medics on board. Within seconds, two passenger doctors were by her side, checking her vitals, asking her questions, and trying to figure out what happened.
The affected passenger didn’t speak English especially well and her voice was understandably quite faint as well. To further confound the sleuthing process, when they asked her if she was on any medication, she pointed to her bag, but each of the pill bottles was identified only in Chinese. Fortunately, one of the flight attendants could read Simplified Chinese, so together the three of them were able to piece together answers to the diagnostic questions.
At the end of the day, the woman seemed to be fine, but it was a really interesting experience to watch. It was quite inspiring, actually. In today’s litigious environment, I wouldn’t have blamed doctors for not treating a patient without several pages of liability waivers in place first. But these two doctors, who had long ago taken the Hippocratic Oath, sprung into action with only a care for the patient.
I am often critical of our overly complicated, misaligned-incentive-driven healthcare industry. However, as long as doctors like these two passengers are around, I breathe a little more easily. Thanks to them and to all the others out there who have devoted their lives to healing!