IF PHYSICIANS on earth could monitor the vital signs of astronauts on the moon nearly 30 years ago, by now they should be able to track the vital signs of airline passengers who become ill just a few miles above the ground. However, the only way physicians on the ground can monitor a passenger during an in-flight medical emergency is by voice communication.
In a recent experiment conducted aboard American Airlines aircraft with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval, a surgical resident and a biocomputational scientist demonstrated what they say is an economically feasible system that may allow physicians at almost any medical center to monitor an airline passenger's vital signs in real time via the Internet.
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