3. Airline Requirements concerning

    the Transportation of Patients

Commercial airlines


To make sure that a patient is suited for transportation on a commercial flight and to comply with the present safety requirements, the airline makes a pre-assessment and a preliminary approval based on a MEDIF (Medical Information Form). 

This form was developed by IATA (International Air Transport Association) and is used by all IATA’smember airlines. The MEDIF is completed by the treating physician or by a consulting physician at an emergency assistance organisation. When completed, the MEDIF is sent to the airline containing all the relevant information concerning the patient’s condition and the prognosis for the flight.

It is essential that the MEDIF is completed in an accurate and adequate manner, as the decision on whether the transport is accepted or not is based on this document. 

When evaluating the MEDIF, the airline focuses on the following:

• The repatriation of the patient is expected to be carried outwithout any problems.

• The physician/nurse must bring all the necessary equipment needed for treating the patient.

• The risk of diversion of a plane caused by the patient’s condition must be reduced to an absolute

   minimum, as such a manoeuvre is a safety issue and very costly for the airline.

• One has to show consideration towards the cabin crew, who cannot be expected to extend a

   higher level of service when dealing with a patient travelling unescorted / escorted by relatives

   than when dealing with ordinary passengers.

• The repatriation of the patient should not cause any disturbance to the other passengers in the

   form of foul odour, unnecessary disturbances, discomfort, or planned treatment during flight.

• The patient should be able to comply with current safety regulations. For example, if travelling

   in a sitting position, the patient has to be able to sit with the seat back in an upright position

   with the seat belt fastened during take-off and landing.

If in doubt, it is recommended that the treating physician or the consulting physician contact the airline’s medical office and present the case. The consequences of inaccuracies or discrepancies between the patient’s described and actual condition gives the captain the right to refuse the patient permission to board if it is considered a matter of flight safety.

The MEDIF is the airline’s legal documentation regarding conditions concerning the repatriation.

The airline’s medical officer and his staff handle the patient’s medical informationwith confidentiality.

The MEDIF form can be downloaded from IATA’s webpage or from the websites of most airlines.

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