- Board of Registration in Medicine
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) conducted a safety study into the relationship between increased use of potentially impairing drugs among pilots and pilot fatalities. See Drug Use Trends in Aviation: Assessing the Risk of Pilot Impairment. This study brings attention to the fact that the increase in potentially impairing drug use among pilots is indicative of a similar trend in the general population and that the risk of transportation accidents is not limited to pilots but extends to individuals operating other types of vehicles such as boats, trains, trucks or cars. In addition, the study found the most common potentially impairing drug used by pilots was diphenhydramine, a sedating antihistamine used in many non-prescription medications such as Benadryl and Unisom.
Accordingly, the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine joins the NTSB in strongly recommending that health care providers discuss with patients the effect that medical conditions, and any prescribed, dispensed or recommended medications, may have on the patients’ ability to safely operate a vehicle in any mode of transportation.
While this alert highlights this particular, important concern raised by the NTSB, the Board of Registration in Medicine reminds health care providers that the recommended discussion should be a part of a broader discussion with patients concerning the effects of their medical conditions and medications.