OCTOBER 30, 2007


Contrary to what is asserted by Sam Solomon in "'Doctors, get tough on drugs': Tony Clement" (Vol 4, No 15, Sept 15, 2007), Colin Mangham's article on harm-reduction research in The Journal of Global Drug Policy and Practice was peer-reviewed, as is every article published at www.globaldrugpolicy.org. His piece follows the conventional pattern and practice of scholarly journals by providing conclusions and recommendations based upon his research.

The Journal of Global Drug Policy and Practice is an open- and free-access journal that enables scientists, physicians, policymakers and concerned readers to examine the science and share perspectives on the global challenge of drug use. We are committed to taking hard looks at issues and policies that have often become accepted by default and by fiat without adequate scientific or medical consideration. We are not concerned that such pointed evaluations are controversial or that they incite responses from those who might be responsible for ineffective or harmful policies.

Dr Eric A Voth, FACP and
Dr David A Gross, DFAPA,
The Journal of Global Drug Policy and Practice

In "Is there a doctor on board?" (Vol 4, No 16, Sept 30, 2007) you noted physicians do not know what is expected of them if there is a call for medical help on board; they do not know what medical equipment they can expect to be available to them if they choose to assist; they wonder what medicolegal issues are involved; and there is confusion as to what, if anything, they can expect or accept as recompense.�

My colleague, Dr Vincent Poirier, and I identified these issues a number of years ago. As emergency physicians who have completed a Diploma of Aviation Medicine at McGill University, we were often approached by colleagues who were uncertain whether they should respond to an in-flight emergency.

To answer these questions we created Onboard Medical Emergencies (OME), a day-long course addressing appropriate responses to emergency situations during air travel. The course consists of classroom teaching on aviation physiology, flight attendant roles, safety regulations, contents and use of the emergency medical kits, medicolegal responsibilities and common medical situations that arise onboard, and it includes a practical element in an aircraft simulator workshop.

The first course of its kind in North America, OME was held for the first time last December to a sold-out classroom of physicians, nurses and medical students, and was an unqualified success. We will be repeating the endeavour this December 5. More info is online at www.OnboardME.com.

Dr Anna Carvalho, Montreal, QC

Physicians should be indemnified by airlines within the boundaries of appropriate care for the circumstances, and thanked in some manner, as suggested by Dr Henry Coopersmith in "Is there a doctor on board?" (Vol 4, No 16, Sept 30, 2007). I have been involved with one of these incidents on Lufthansa and after it was resolved I was presented with a bottle of champagne (the real stuff) and gracious verbal thanks by the chief steward, which was appreciated. Colleagues' experiences with Air Canada's "thanks" have been rather inconsistent and less than inspiring.

Dr Philip F Hall, Winnipeg, MB


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