Inadequate guidelines about the dangers of kidney stones could be putting travellers lives and their medical insurance at risk, according to the March issue of the urology journal BJU International.
Urologists have called for transport companies to put stringent staff guidelines in place to tackle the condition, which can cause sudden, severe and debilitating pain.
And theyre urging family doctors to ensure that kidney stone sufferers who are planning to travel overseas are aware of the risks and that they inform their insurance company to avoid costly unpaid medical bills.
Patients should also inform their employers if a sudden kidney stone attack could put them, or others, at risk.
"Kidney stones affect about one in ten people and the pain can be notoriously severe, with up to 40 per cent of attacks needing hospital admission" says urologist Nigel Borley, a specialist registrar from St Georges Hospital, London.
"The pain is so disabling, that even with intravenous morphine, pain relief only averages 36 per cent."
"If transport workers, such as pilots and train drivers, are suddenly incapacitated by kidney stone pain it can pose a real safety risk to them and their passengers" adds co-author Commodore David Rainsford, a consultant physician to the UK Civil Aviation Authority and consultant in renal disease to the Royal Air Force.
The authors contacted major UK supervising and professional bodies and asked them if they issued any formal or informal guidelines for transport staff who could be affected by kidney stone attacks.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority was the only civilian body they talked to that had formalised guidelines for managing kidney stones. Although the guidelines only covered pilots, most of the major airlines surveyed also adopted the guidelines for cabin crew.