Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Stroke Care at 38,000 Feet

Excerpted from the Kansas City Star:

That was the day the 40-year-old Ohio lawyer nearly died from a sudden stroke that began to paralyze her as she flew from Cleveland to Phoenix.

Her life was saved by an emergency room doctor from Akron, Ohio, who happened to be on the flight and recognized her symptoms.

And by the America West pilots who made an emergency landing at Kansas City International Airport.

And by stroke specialists at St. Luke’s Hospital who repaired the carotid artery problem that was keeping blood and oxygen from getting to her brain and set her on the road to what they expect to be a full recovery.

It just happened that Maureen Vaughan, a pediatric emergency room doctor at a children’s hospital in Akron, was on the flight. She stepped in and asked Robertson to do some simple tests, like touching her nose, to help her determine whether Robertson was having a stroke.

Vaughan’s emergency room experience was critical, Rymer said. It would have been good to have any doctor, regardless of his or her specialty, on board. But emergency room doctors are especially aware of how important it is to have rapid diagnosis and action for major problems, and they often know how to check for signs of a stroke, she said.

Vaughan decided Robertson probably was having a stroke.

She asked the flight attendants to tell the pilots to land immediately.


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