The medical fiasco on Delta Airlines has now gone viral after a Facebook post by MD Tamika Cross the physician who was turned away as a fellow passenger was unresponsive. Tamika joins a long list of female physicians who have experienced the same discrimination. A man nearly died on the plane because the crew did not believe that Tamika Cross MD was a doctor. Tamika joins a long list of female physicians who have experienced the same discrimination. So what’s going on? Then she hears over the loud speaker ‘Any physician on board, please press your button.’ I stare at her as I go to press my button. She said, ‘Oh wow you’re an actual physician?’ I reply yes. She said, ‘Let me see your credentials. What type of doctor are you? Where do you work? Why were you in Detroit?’ (Please remember this man is still in need of help and she is blocking my row from even standing up while bombarding me with questions.) I respond, ‘OB/GYN, work in Houston, in Detroit for a wedding, but believe it or not, they DO HAVE doctors in Detroit. Now excuse me so I can help the man in need.’ Another ‘seasoned’ white male approaches the row and says he is a physician as well. She says to me, ‘Thanks for your help but he can help us, and he has his credentials.’ (Mind you he hasn’t shown anything to her. Just showed up and fit the ‘description of a doctor.’) I stay seated. Mind blown. Blood boiling … Supervisor verified that with me afterward. In an emergency, they never ask to show credentials. This could have been life or death. We didn’t know if he had a pulse or anything!”
Kadijah Ray, MD: Anesthesiologist “In response to the horrific treatment of Dr. Tamika Cross on Delta Airlines! I’ve received that same treatment on two different flights while trying to help people in distress. And no, I ‘don’t have my credentials with me.’ You wouldn’t allow me to carry that on! Would far exceed your weight and size requirements.”Trupti Shah, MD: Emergency medicine “On an Egypt Air overnight flight from Cairo to JFK, the
lady seated in front of me was having difficulty breathing. I heard the commotion but did not understand the conversation since it was in Arabic. I asked if I could help and identified myself as a doctor. I was told by the male head flight attendant to sit down. They then announced overhead asking for medical help. I got up again but was ignored. A male cardiologist, from NY, who was fluent in Arabic offered assistance and was immediately ushered to the woman. He noticed that I was trying to help but was not allowed. While they went to get him the medical kit on board, we spoke. He had trained at my hospital. As soon as he was handed the medical kit, he immediately gave it to me but the flight attendant tried to take it back. He had to intervene in order for me to help the woman; he translated. The woman had started taking amoxicillin given to her for a sore throat and developed a rash, itchy throat and shortness of breath. I checked her blood pressure and lungs. Then I gave her prednisone, Benadryl, and Pepcid from my carry-on (all of which I carry with me when I travel abroad.) She felt better after 30 minutes. An hour later, the meals were served. I had reserved a vegetarian meal, but when I requested it, the same male flight attendant told me that ‘you people always lie.’ He argued and refused to believe me. He asked for proof, and I showed him my printed flight itinerary. He then brought me a completely burnt tray.”
Kiss, DO: Family medicine chief resident “Same
thing happened to me on the side of the freeway. Car overturned, glass in head,
pouring blood. People questioned me as I ran over in horror as they kept moving
him around to check the wound. I say ‘I’m a doctor. Please lay him down.
Someone keep his neck still. Someone hold pressure on the wound.’ The other
down. The lady on scene tells me to prove it! Go away, lady, I’m trying to keep
this guy from dying from your negligence.”
Mariam Anwar, MD: Internal medicine/geriatrics “On an Emirates flight, the flight manager asked for my credentials and wouldn’t let me help. Let a white nurse help though without asking for her credentials. Of course, I helped anyway. It was an elderly male with [emphysema] COPD exacerbation, hypoxic and also having an anxiety attack. We had to calculate if we would have enough oxygen to last the trip without having to land … would not make it if he needed more than baseline (5 L). The manager put him in business class and gave us seats too. We monitored him for several hours; he became unresponsive, hypertensive. I checked an EKG, glucose and after several sternal rubs he woke up. Of course, I lost several hours of sleep on a long flight and a flight attendant had to take care of my toddler while I assisted him. When his shift was over another manager came (he was Arab). He told me to go back to economy class, and he let the white nurse stay in business class the entire flight! Blatant discrimination and lack of respect!”
Susan Goldberg Cohen, MD: Internal medicine/Palliative care “Had the same issue on a plane when sick passenger was in row behind me but ‘Marcus Welby’ in a tweed jacket ran from way back of the plane … Flight attendant admonished me for not taking my seat when there was a medical emergency in progress — ugh …”
Mina Moghul, DO: Family medicine “Had something similar happen to me. A patient syncopized (fainted) right next to my seat. I identified myself as a physician and was pushed out of the way and told to step aside for a male RN to tend to the passenger. I was so stunned, I froze for a few seconds before politely introducing myself to the nurse as a physician and recommended we work together. The flight attendant continued to ignore me and direct questions and offers to get help or equipment to the male nurse. I thought it was just me that had experienced this …”
There are more. Since this did go viral, I don’t feel the need to continue down the list of all female doctors getting this kind of treatment. It blows my mind and I actually walk away from a scenario like this and take breaks, then I’m ready to move forward. I respect their privacy and humility so I am not putting their pictures on either.
Perhaps this will shed a bit of light on the treatment that female doctors get after the sacrifices they make to become doctors. People die on planes, not always from crashing.
Reference Kevin Pho, MD 10/18/2016Edited by Karen Anne Kramer