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Patient groups ask TSA to improve screening of travelers with medical devices

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The Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network and 23 other patient advocacy groups offer recommendations on how the Transportation Security Administration can improve training of airport screeners.

Better training of airport screening officers, clear policies on “pat-downs” and more respect for travelers with medical devices are needed, according to a coalition of 24 patient advocacy groups that have signed a letter to Transportation Security Administration (TSA) head John Pistole.

The Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN) and two dozen other patient advocacy groups said their recommendations are in response to the experience of Tom Sawyer, a bladder cancer survivor whose ostomy bag leaked urine on him after a TSA pat-down.

“While we appreciate how quickly TSA Administrator John Pistole apologized to Mr. Sawyer, more needs to be done,” said Diane Zipursky Quale, BCAN president. “Mr. Pistole asked for input on how TSA officers could do their job better.  We have some specific recommendations for the TSA.” 

TSA’s newly launched Office of Disability Policy and Outreach has developed medical information cards that travelers can hand to TSA screeners. The card does not exempt travelers with medical devices from screening.

The coalition represents people who live with ostomies (which collect bodily waste through a stoma, or opening on their abdomen), indwelling ports, catheters, PICC lines, feeding tubes, insulin pumps, and other medical devices that could show up as anomalies in full-body scans.

Signers: Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network, Advocacy for Patients with Chronic Illness, Inc.; American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases; American Diabetes Association; American Gastroenterological Association; The American Neurogastroenterology and Motility Society;  American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition; Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization; Association of Gastrointestinal Motility Disorders, Inc.; C3: Colorectal Cancer Coalition; Celiac Sprue Association; Colon Cancer Alliance; Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America; Digestive Disease National Coalition; Hepatitis Foundation International; International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders; Interstitial Cystitis Association; Gastroparesis Patient Association for Cures and Treatments; The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness; National Pancreas Foundation;  The Oley Foundation; Pull-thru Network, Inc.; United Ostomy Associations of America, Inc.; and Youth Rally Inc.  The Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society and Inspire endorsed the letter.

BCAN offers traveling tips for people living with urostomies.


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