Medical Care in the Air: Lufthansa’s Doctor on Board Program

by Alyssa Daniells

If you’ve been lucky enough not to hear a flight attendant ask, “Is there a doctor on board?” you’ve seen it on TV shows: a request is made over the PA system for professional assistance with a medical emergency. (If it’s a TV sitcom you’re watching, the doctor volunteer usually turns out to be a veterinarian.)

Lufthansa aircraft

This situation isn’t likely to happen aboard Lufthansa aircraft. Germany’s flag carrier is a pioneer when it comes to passenger health, with its Doctors on Board program. This identifies any doctors on the plane, their seat numbers and area(s) of expertise, so flight attendants can approach them directly. The program facilitates the efficiency that is invaluable in a medical emergency.

To register, a physician completes a form, identifying fields of expertise and agrees to provide medical help when necessary. Doctors will be pleased to note that Lufthansa relieves them of any legal recourse when it comes to treating patients, through third-party insurance covered by the airline. They also receive 5,000 Miles & More points as a signing bonus (they must sign up for the Miles & More program to begin with, as the carrier stores the information and identifies the physician through this rewards program.) The Handbook of Aviation Medicine and In-flight Medical Emergencies is also provided.

The Doctor on Board program is an innovative idea from which other carriers and their passengers could benefit from; perhaps in future we’ll see more medical care in the air.

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