Fitness to fly

11th January 2018 by Rachel Birch

Fitness to fly

Dr Rachel Birch, Medical Protection medicolegal adviser, presents two case scenarios on requests for fitness to fly certificates, illustrating what locum GPs can do to support patients while minimising any potential risks.

Case study – Fit to fly, we want some sunshine!

Mr G, a 68 year old patient, came with his wife to see Dr A in the middle of a busy on-call surgery. He said he needed her to complete a form stating that he was fit to fly.
He told Dr A that he had been recently diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. His wife was keen to take him to Spain for some sunshine before his health deteriorated. The couple had been told by a Macmillan nurse that people with cancer may require medical travel clearance from their doctors before being allowed to board an aircraft.

Dr A had not met Mr G before, as she had just started covering maternity leave for his usual GP. She explained that she didn’t feel she had the knowledge of him or the expertise to comment on Mr G’s fitness to fly. However, she arranged to contact the couple the following day, and sought Mr G’s consent to discuss his health with the respiratory consultant in the meantime.

If asked to comment on fitness to fly, avoid stating a patient is “fit to fly” since this could be perceived as a guarantee of a patient’s fitness.

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