In-Flight Medical Care System

In-flight medical care system includes trained medical personnel, medical inventory and facilities, and support from physicians on Earth. An obvious requirement is to take a physician in the crew. In addition to giving medical care, a physician could lead biomedical research and perform other scientific studies. There are also many jobs to be done on Mars. It is also efficient to train the crew in first aid. Astronauts are trained in the effects of spaceflight conditions on human physiology and psychology and in treatment of illness and injuries in space (Billica and Jennings 302).

Crew members are trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid. Two members of the crew perform the functions of crew medical officers, or CMOs. These astronauts have additional medical skills, maintain medical provision and equipment, and observe or record environmental hazards, as well as take the main role in medical care. In flight, crew medical officers use the radio to cooperate closely with medical experts on the Earth (Boston 68). During the crew members’ waking hours, a physician is on duty at health control.

While the astronauts sleep, physicians are about ten minutes away. Each crew member receives a private medical consultation each day. The flight medical officers carefully monitor each crew member’s condition and behavior. They listen carefully to the tone of the crew members’ voices. During particularly stressful situations, such as space moving, flight medical officers check telemetered information, such as from an ongoing electrocardiogram that would show heart arrhythmia or other health problems. Earth-based doctors can use devices designed to diagnose specific illnesses.

A small, portable unit called the telemedicine instrument pack (TIP) has a television camera with particular lenses used for ear, nose, and throat; ophthalmological; and dermatological exams (Crump 1085). As crew members travel farther and farther from Earth, telemedicine will become less and less workable, at least for emergency situations. At great distances crew members might not be able to survive long enough for a medical complaint to reach team on ground and for the expert’s advice to return to the team in space.

Distant stations will have to include one or more well-trained physicians among the group of experts, along with a collection of data that can be used in place of hospital libraries (Crump 1085). Medical supplies have been carried on all NASA flights. In the early days these contained little more than a handful of pills. The choice of medical supplies is a difficult one. On the one hand, it is possible to include medicine to cover as many accidents as possible. On the other hand, weight and storing considerations limit the amount that can be included.

Spacecraft flight should include medical supplies containing basic first aid equipment, pharmaceuticals, immobilization machines, and other devices to deal with possible medical problems. An analysis of in-flight use of medicine based on 219 records indicated that 94 percent used some drugs. Of the spacemen who used medicine, 47 percent took remedies for SAS, 45 percent took medicine to alleviate sleep disorders, and not many took drugs for headache, backache, and sinus congestion (Putcha et al. ).

The ISS will carry medical packs for everyday use and for special situations (Barratt 155). As new components are included to the space station, and new crewmembers come on vehicle, supplementary medical capabilities will be added, perhaps reaching a final stage in a dedicated health maintenance facility. The flight will also require comprehensive supplies. Ultimately, it will include xray and surgical equipment and possibly a convalescent area. Some medicines are simplified under conditions of state of weightlessness, but others are made more difficult to use.

In space, drugs may not be absorbed into the bloodstream, or take action, as occurs under normal gravity. These results from decreased bodily liquids, altered digestion processes, and changed chemical processes that occur in the organisms. Drugs that can be used orally on ground may have to be used intravenously or with help of a transdermal patch. Microgravity forces medical care system to rethink both the use and the dosage of medical treatments. Surgical procedures become complicated by weightlessness.

Because of the completely enclosing environment, anesthetics that have to be breathed in are not used, and medical care system cannot rely on gravity to hold patients’ organs and tissues in place. Besides, similar to all other liquids, blood tends either to stick to surfaces in very fine sheets or break up into vary small drops. As a result, the cabin can be filled with a red mist. It will be problematic to keep surgical areas free of pollution and to keep surgery from dirtying the environment. It should be noted that in a young and healthy persons surgery will be rare.

For example, among Polaris submariners there were 269 surgical cases in 7,650,000 man-days. In a constantly occupied space station, this would be a major surgical case about once every nine years (Campbell and Billica 523). Doctors use devices (for example, surgery containment chambers) that will make it possible to conduct surgery in space (Campbell and Billica 523). Perhaps the biggest challenge right now is that medical care system cannot expect CMOs to become skilled surgeons. Crew members should be implanted with micro monitors and robots that will control their medical needs.

As this is three months mission, medical care system must be prepared to deal with both accidental and naturally occurring deaths on Mars. Robert M. Beattie indicates onboard facilities where necropsy can be performed to find out the causes of death, such as viral or bacterial infections that could threaten the rest of the crew (Campbell and Billica 524). Such problems could occur if bacteria growing within crew members led to a from of Legionnaires’ disease or if crew members came upon a hostile extraterrestrial “bug. ”

Beattie also notes that medical care system must be prepared for storage or disposing of human remains. The grief of remaining crewmembers also should be considered. Space station plans call for packing corpses onboard for return to ground via the shuttle. There will be no act of burying in space like burials at sea. Frozen corpses should not be added to the mix of orbiting space junk. No one plans to have death in space. But as in the case of addressing other threats, such unforeseen events should be planned now than improvised later.

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