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AANP Responds to American Airlines Incident

To Doug Parker, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, American Airlines Group Inc.,

It has come to my attention that an in-flight health emergency occurred on one of your recent flights. A licensed nurse practitioner (NP) and member of our organization, immediately responded to the crew’s urgent request for assistance to treat a passenger in distress. In order to treat the passenger, the NP required access to the on-board medical kit. However, your flight crew informed this highly-trained and licensed NP that only a blood pressure cuff and a stethoscope could be provided. It was stated that company policy was the sole reason why adequate and available resources could not be provided to this NP volunteering to assist a passenger in need.

Upon further inquiry, the NP was informed that your company’s policy only allows certain health care professionals access to your aircraft’s medical kits in emergency situations. This policy specifically prevents NPs as well as physician assistants from access to certain equipment, including defibrillators, to provide emergency care.

Given the many heroic stories of health care professionals, numerous NPs among them, saving lives aboard airline flights, it is my sincerest hope to clarify your company’s policy and engage in a deeper conversation to explore strategies to ensure health care providers, including NPs and physician assistants, are given the necessary tools to provide appropriate and necessary emergency care to American Airlines’ passengers while in flight.

While the circumstances surrounding this emergency may be unique, we view this as an opportunity to look at the bigger issue of passenger safety and work proactively toward a solution aligned with current health care trends and the clinical training and expertise of NPs to assist in similar emergencies.

Thank you for your consideration of this matter, and I look forward to your response


Joyce Knestrick, PhD, APRN, CFNP, FAANP

The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)
is the largest professional membership organization for nurse practitioners (NPs) of all specialties. It represents the interests of the more than 234,000 licensed NPs in the U.S. AANP provides legislative leadership at the local, state and national levels, advancing health policy; promoting excellence in practice, education and research; and establishing standards that best serve NP patients and other health care consumers. As The Voice of the Nurse Practitioner®, AANP represents the interests of NPs as providers of high-quality, cost-effective, comprehensive, patient-centered health care. To locate a nurse practitioner in your community, go to For more information about NPs, visit