Why Physicians Need A “Sterile Cockpit”

Tue, 04/13/2010 - 6:51am

Imagine, you are the pilot of a 747, getting ready to land the plane at LAX (pilot speak for Los Angeles International Airport), your ear phones are strapped on, you are talking to the tower, verifying your landing instructions, going through the check list, lowering the landing gear, adjusting the fuel mixture, and just as you throttle back–

“Excuse me, captain, but the passenger in 12B really needs to go to the bathroom even though the no smoking sign is on.  Is that okay?” 

Pilots have the sterile cockpit–a situation in which, if the plane is below 10,000 feet, only conversation directly relevant to flying is allowed.  The rule was developed because take offs and landings are the most likely time a crash will occur, and take offs and landings occur below 10,000 feet. Simple enough, and it saves lives.
Physicians need a sterile cock pit.

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