Background: International travel industry in Taiwan is expanding. The number of people traveling abroad was approximately 480 000 people in 1980; 2 940 000 in 1990; 7 320 000 in 2000, and in 2007, it has reached 8 960 000, which was more than one third of total population. Air medical transportation will be necessary when local medical facilities do not approximate the international standards. No previous study on epidemiology in Taiwan on patients received international medical repatriation. This is the first report to discuss the epidemiology of Taiwan's international aeromedical transportation and its focus on neurologic diseases. Method: Retrospective analysis of all international aeromedical transports on Taiwanese patients from October 2005 to September 2007 was performed. All materials were collected from the databank of International SOS, Taipei. The data were analyzed with Microsoft Excel and SPSS v. 11.0 software (SPSS, Chicago, Ill). Results: A total of 416 patients were transported. Excluding expatriates transported outbound and 2-stage inbound transports, the Taiwanese patient number with international aeromedical transport was 379; 51 by air ambulance and 328 commercially. There were 271 male (72%) and 108 female patients (18%). Of the 379 patients, 178 (47%) were neurologic diseases. Two hundred ninety-five (78%) patients were transported from China. Patient transports peaked in autumn by 105 (28%). Of all 33 ventilated patients, 12 (36%) were neurologic diseases. In-flight complications occurred in 10% of neurologic and 2% of nonneurologic cases. No in-flight mortality occurred in both groups. Conclusion: Neurologic diseases comprise most of the Taiwanese patients that requires medical transportation. With relatively suboptimal medical standard and high medical expenses in China, patients with neurologic conditions need timely and safe aeromedical transport than those with other diseases. Transport of patients with neurologic diseases, either by air ambulance or commercial flights, can only be safely performed by well-trained medical escorts and comprehensive logistic arrangements.
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