Dr. Colin Knight, Miami, Florida

“Is there a doctor on board?”


I just finished reading news that American Airlines is being sued by the family of a woman who died on board a flight from Hawaii. I won’t recount the all details here, but it seems she fell ill, a doctor on board recommended that the flight be diverted, he was overruled, the woman died, and the equipment on board was inadequate to revive her. Of course, that’s assuming she was revivable. The news account reported she died of a pulmonary embolism (PE), a blood clot traveling to the lungs. The death rate for a massive PE that requires CPR is about 75% in one study. But that is for the lawyers to debate. Reading the article prompted me to recall some of my experiences responding on airplanes as “the doctor on board.”

Flying several miles in the air with limited resources available makes responding to a medical emergency on a flight akin to practicing wilderness medicine. The airlines, I’m sure, want all of their passengers to arrive safely. The most prudent thing would be to divert every plane with a medical emergency to the nearest airport, but with roughly one in every six hundred flights having a medical emergency on board, roughly 80,000 flights a day in the United States, and an average cost per diversion of $100,000, it would cost $13,000,000 a day to divert them all. And that is discounting the cost of the inconvenience to the thousands of people who are also on those flights. So diversion is going to be a rare event. The FAA requires airlines flying in the US to have a basic medical kit that includes airway supplies, an inhaler plus seven other medications, and “basic instructions” for using the medications. Responders can advise the captain whether or not to divert, but ultimately it is the captain’s decision.

I’ve responded to three in-flight medical emergencies….

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Dr. Colin Knight, Miami, Florida

Common Pediatric Surgeries


In order to treat both acute and persistent conditions in children’s health, pediatric surgery is often needed. With rapid advances in the technology we have in medicine today, many of these surgeries are now routine and have a very low risk factor.

In one of Dr. Colin Knight’s recent blogs, he explains some of the most common surgeries he’s performed as a pediatric surgeon.

  • Appendectomy
  • Hernia Surgery
  • Skin and Soft Tissue
  • Vascular Access
  • Congenital Defects
Dr. Colin Knight, Miami, Florida

Surviving Your Child’s Hospital Stay


When faced with a child’s hospital stay, it’s easy to feel helpless. As a parent, you never want to see your child suffer, and it’s difficult to know what to do to make the situation any better. If your child needs to stay in the hospital, here are a few tips to help you get through it.

Plan to stay with your child as much as possible
Many hospitals now assume that someone will be with your child during their hospital stay, especially if they are younger. During this scary time, your child will be comforted by your presence and will be more likely to express their needs to you rather than a nurse. Doctors recognize that children recover faster when their parents are involved in their care and are more likely to consult you about major decisions if you are present. If you can’t be with your child full-time, try to find out when the doctor will regularly examine your child and make it a priority to be there then.

Ask for help
Having a child in the hospital is stressful for your whole family, especially if you have other children at home. You may be reluctant to ask others for help, but you might be surprised to find how eager people may be to lend a hand. Your family or friends may be able to handle larger tasks such as staying with your other children, but other members of your community may be able to help as well. Contact your church or school and let them know what is going on. Students in your child’s class may want to send get well cards, and parents may be able to help out with carpooling your other children to school or maybe dropping meals off to your family. Keep an organized list of things that you need help with so that when someone asks if you need help, you have specific suggestions.

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Dr. Colin Knight, Miami, Florida

How to Prepare Your Child For Surgery

Dr.-Colin-Knight-Pediatric-Surgeon-1080x675I’ve been taking care of children as a doctor for over 15 years (4 years as a primary care doctor in the Air Force, 2 as a pediatric surgery fellow, and over 10 years in practice). In that time I’ve probably been involved with well over 6,000 children getting ready for surgery. In addition, I’ve been a father for 13 years now and in that time we’ve dealt with surgery, broken bones, numerous immunizations and office visits, and many minor procedures.

Most kids are brave. I’m not saying most children are not scared. They don’t run away screaming; they are brave in the face of their fear. I find that the only kids whose bravery really falters are those whose parents are visibly anxious about it. Much like the saying that dogs can smell fear, children are astute at reading their parents emotions. So what can we as doctors and parents do to help alleviate that fear for children who will need surgery? I think most fear stems from the unknown. Think about a horror movie. When are you scared? Not when the monster is attacking the hero, but when the hero is safe and you don’t know when the attack will be. It’s the same thing when riding a roller coaster the first time. I don’t know about you, but my heart is racing on the slow ride up, not when I’m zooming down. The best thing we can do for children to get them ready for surgery is to let them know what to expect. I’ve seen kids absolutely terrified the day of because their parents told them they are going to the movies and brought them in for surgery. Don’t be that parent.

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