Shivani Patel Treats a Passenger In-Flight

Shivani PatelShivani Patel recently responded to an in-flight medical emergency when a passenger fell ill while 38,000 feet in the air. Read a letter about this anesthesiologist from the grateful patient. Also submit a comment below your own kudos, including those related to service excellence.

Letter from Robert Burns of Melbourne, Fla.

To whom it may concern:

I wish to take this opportunity to highly commend the actions of an outstanding physician on your staff during a recent airline flight from Atlanta to San Francisco.  The flight originated in Orlando, with a brief stopover in Atlanta.

I have been an insulin dependent diabetic for well over 40 years.  I consider myself to be quite conscientious and compliant in dealing with the disease, and I incessantly strive to attain the best possible health.  Unfortunately, during the brief stop in Atlanta, I felt a bit unusual and upon checking my blood sugar level with a meter I carry, I learned it was dangerously low.  I immediately began taking measures to treat the condition by eating candy I was also carrying, however I had already apparently reached the point of no return.

As I later learned, soon after departure from Atlanta my wife summoned a flight attendant for assistance.  Although a crew member immediately provided orange juice and other offerings, I remained unresponsive.  While my wife has had prior first hand experience in dealing with severe hypoglycemic events, her efforts were to no avail.

The flight crew made a plea for medical professionals on board and much to my good fortune, Dr. Patel and another associate professor of anesthesiology headed to the same conference, responded without hesitation, providing the necessary care and treatment.  They administered IV infusion as well as other measures, to which I completely and totally recovered.  In addition, they're highly competent and effective actions prevented any delay or disruption in the flight, which at this point was in serious jeopardy of an emergency diversion to the closest airport.

Dr. Patel's efforts not only immensely aided me, but her calm, kind, confident personality served to relieve the stress and apprehensions of my wife, the flight crew and the other passengers seated around me.  She was an ambassador of compassionate, capable medical care which her colleagues at Johns Hopkins should be most proud of.

My initial reaction upon learning that Dr. Patel is an assistant professor in her field, was awe.  I had apparently been cared for by the best.  Then, as the long flight continued, I couldn't help but wonder when was the last time she actually inserted an IV?  Fortunately for me, that must come under the "like riding a bicycle" umbrella of medicine.

At any rate, thanks to the skilled and professional response by Dr. Patel and her cohort, the flight crew was relieved of virtually all responsibility and concern when it came to me, and thus able to redirect their attention where it should be, the care of their passengers and integrity and safety of the flight as a whole.

Lastly, my wife is tremendously grateful.  While HIPAA may be unheard of under these circumstances in a crowded airliner at 38,000 feet, bedside manner was certainly not lost.  Dr. Patel was always well composed and her caring, compassionate assurances were ever-present.

I feel that Johns Hopkins Hospital should be aware of the caliber of expertise demonstrated here, under most unusual conditions.  I take great comfort in knowing that physicians like Shivani are teaching the next generation of care givers.

Thank you for your time and consideration in reviewing this letter.  It is my sincere hope

that the Johns Hopkins Medicine recognizes and commends Dr. Shivani Patel for the service she provides to your program, as well as all of us "outsiders" and patients who have taken absolute pleasure in our opportunity to meet her.


Sincerely grateful,

Robert G. Bums











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Rating: 4.9/5 (15 votes cast)

Shivani Patel Treats a Passenger In-Flight, 4.9 out of 5 based on 15 ratings


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }


Rae Skidmore February 26, 2014 at 7:07 pm

Thank you, Dr. Patel for your courage, strength, compassion, knowledge, and your expertise in "stepping up" to take care of Mr. Burns. Although, I do not know you, I am proud to say I work at the same hospital of the Dr. Patel who took care of Mr. Burns. This was an awesome story . God bless you!


Vivian I. Abadom February 26, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Dr. Shivani Patel..........................Thank You Very Much for the exemplary professionalism and sincere dedication to compassionate medicine.......this is what medicine is all about. No doubt, Johns Hopkins is the Best of the Best, produces and supports the best of medicine world-wide - I am very proud to be a part of Hopkins!


sonya February 26, 2014 at 8:54 am

It is for reasons such as this that we are #1 around the world. Keep up the good work.


Shawntell Goode February 26, 2014 at 8:03 am

This really brought tears to my eyes. Kudos to Dr. Patel!!!! Although I don't know you personally, it's good to know that I work amongst the BEST of the BEST!


Elizabeth Jane Duvall February 26, 2014 at 7:49 am

Dr. Patel and her companion did what we all hope a knowledgeable health care provider would do under these circumstances. There is always a risk in stepping up. Things might go wrong. People in need might be less than grateful. In the face of this risk the better choice is still, always, to step up. It is great that Mr. Burns is thankful and that he took the time to write this generous letter.
Every day at Johns Hopkins, in whatever work we do here, we have the opportunity to help people. It is good to be reminded that this opportunity presents itself outside our walls, even up in the sky.
Thank you, Dr. Patel, for representing Johns Hopkins so admirably.


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