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Q&A: Pulmonary Embolism

By Penny Giovanetti, D.O., Manager, Aerospace Medical Specialties Division
Source: FAA Safety Briefing, July/August 2017

Q. If you were to have a medical condition that prevented you from flying, such as a pulmonary embolism, and you were able to get rid of the embolism and stop taking blood thinners before your next physical, are you obligated to tell the flight surgeon before you start flying again, or is it sufficient to disclose it during the next physical?

A. You are not obligated to tell the flight surgeon; however, pulmonary embolus can be life threatening and it would be wise to discuss your condition with the flight surgeon before you return to flying. It would be important to discuss your current condition as well as your risk of future events.

Send your questions to They will be forwarded to the Aerospace Medical Certification Division, without your name, and the answer will be published in an upcoming issue of FAA Safety Briefing.

Penny Giovanetti, D.O., received a bachelor’s degree from Stanford, a master’s in Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine from the University of Iowa and a doctorate from Des Moines University. She completed a 27-year career as an Air Force flight surgeon. She is board certified in aerospace medicine, occupational medicine, and physical medicine/rehabilitation. She is also a Fellow of the Aerospace Medical Association and a private pilot.

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