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Man shocks passengers when he refuses to volunteer as doctor on a flight. AITA?

Man shocks passengers when he refuses to volunteer as doctor on a flight. AITA?

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When this doctor refuses to volunteer to help someone on a flight, he asks Reddit:

"AITA for refusing to volunteer as a doctor on a flight?"

I’m (M, mid 30s) a medical doctor working as an internal medicine hospitalist at a major hospital. Recently I was on a long haul international flight. Usually I sleep on flights but this was during my waking hours so I decided to spend my time enjoying the inflight entertainment and free drinks.

I had already been drinking even before the flight while I was in the lounge. I was not slurring or excessively drunk but I was feeling a strong buzz. Usually I don’t chat with my co-passengers, I just sleep or do my own thing.

On this flight the configuration of the business class cabin was such that the passengers in the middle row were practically just beside each other. There was just a small barrier separating me and my co-passenger (F, mid 30s) that could be raised but it still didn’t do much to separate us.

She started up a conversation and being a little intoxicated, I was also feeling chatty. When she asked what I do I mentioned I’m a doctor and I work at such and such hospital. After some more small talk we both started doing our own thing.

I was trying to watch my movie and enjoy my drinks when an announcement was made asking if there was a doctor on flight. Normally I would present myself to the cabin crew and help out but after several hours of on flight boozing, I was pretty drunk.

I was not able to think clearly and probably would have done more harm than good in such a situation. I didn’t react to the announcement at all. I continued watching my movie and drinking my drink. My co-passenger tapped me and said they just announced they need a doctor.

I replied that someone else would help or they would get instructions from the medical team on the ground. She tried convincing me to go help but I refused. She then said I was an unbelievable AH and if the passenger died it was my fault.

I said listen lady, just because I’m a doctor doesn’t mean I’m not on call 24/7 to provide medical care on demand. I work when I’m at the hospital, outside I’m just like everyone else and I’m entitled to drink and relax. She had a disgusted look on her face but didn’t talk to me after that. I didn’t want to engage with her either.

I’m not sure what happened to the passenger who needed medical assistance but since I didn’t hear any more announcements I assumed all was well. While exiting the aircraft this lady called me an AH again.

In my mind, I’m very clear that since I was intoxicated I could not provide medical assistance. I was drinking on my own time and there was no expectation that I would need to be sober. Doctors get to enjoy life too, I can’t stay sober on every flight just in case there’s an emergency. I don’t think AITA, but I thought I’d get external opinions. AITA?

Let's see what readers thought.

mountaincatcold writes:

NAH. You are N T A for not volunteering after you'd been drinking. But why TF did you not just tell your co-passenger that? The way you describe it you have appeared to just not want to help, and that comes across as really cold and callous. In her situation I would have thought you a huge AH, and you really did nothing to let her know you weren't.

barpepper20 writes:

YTA. Not because you didn't volunteer to help, but because of your attitude. You didn't hear any other announcements so you presume all was well? What, you expect them to come back on and say "we were only playing before but now we REALLY need a doctor even if you're sloshed so please come to row 8A"?

Or better yet "ladies and gentlemen, just to let you know, since no doctor showed up, passenger X had died quietly. Just wanted to give everyone an update. Drink service will now resume..."?

No. They made an announcement looking for help, they got no response and they moved on to the next best option. That does not remotely mean all was peachy for the passenger with the medical problem.

If I was the passenger beside you I would have assumed your attitude meant that you weren't really a doctor at all and it was just a line you use for conversations.

All this could have been avoided with a simple "ah no, it's not that I don't want to help, but I've just been drinking too much and could really hurt someone if I try to help right now" (or something less eloquent, if you were really quite intoxicated"

It's your handling of the interaction and your attitude that are AH-like. Not your decision not to offer medical services.

affectionate7 writes:

NTA The crew would not have used you in your capacity as a dr as you were intoxicated. By law they cannot as you are well aware.

They would’ve gotten assistance from another sober dr on board and the ground medical team. Your fellow passenger is TA for saying those things to you. Hopefully after the flight she learnt that couldn’t have helped because you were drinking.

Looks like the jury's out. What do YOU think?

Sources: Reddit
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