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Screening for Passengers with Medical Devices (ie, Catheters, Tubes, and Ports)

This information was provided upon request from TSA Cares, August 2012

Passengers who have medical devices attached to their bodies, such as bone growth stimulators, spinal stimulators, neurostimulators, ports, feeding tubes, TENS Unit or other types of devices should inform the Transportation Security Officer (TSO) conducting the screening of the device and indicate where the device is located before the screening process begins. TSA has created notification cards that travelers may use to inform a TSO about any disability, medical condition, or medical device that could affect security screening. Although these cards do not exempt anyone from security screening, their use may improve communication and help travelers discreetly notify TSOs of their conditions. This card can be found here.

If a passenger can safely disconnect from their device, he or she can submit it for x-ray screening; however, passengers can be screened without disconnecting from devices. If a passenger cannot disconnect from the device, the type of screening conducted will depend on the type of device and the passenger’s abilities. Passengers should consult with the manufacturer of the device to determine whether it can pass through a walk-through metal detector or can be subjected to Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) screening.

If the device can be safely screened by AIT, passengers can be screened using AIT only if they can stand still with their arms above their heads for 5-7 seconds without the support of a person or device. Similarly, passengers can be screened using walk-through metal detectors only if they can walk through on their own. An eligible passenger can request to be screened by AIT if it is available or can request to be screened using a thorough patdown; however, passengers cannot request to be screened by the walk-through metal detector in lieu of AIT or a patdown.

If a passenger cannot or chooses not to be screened by AIT or a walk-through metal detector, the passenger will be screened using a thorough patdown procedure instead.

A patdown procedure also is used to resolve any alarms of a metal detector or anomalies identified by AIT. If a patdown is required in order to complete screening:

  • The patdown should be conducted by a TSO of the same gender. Sometimes, passengers must wait for a TSO of the same gender to become available.

  • The passenger can request a private screening at any time and a private screening should be offered when the TSO must pat-down sensitive areas. During a private screening, another TSA employee will also be present and the passenger may be accompanied by a companion of his or her choosing.

  • A passenger may ask for a chair if he or she needs to sit down.

  • The passenger should inform TSOs of any difficulty raising his or her arms, remaining in the position required for a patdown, or any areas of the body that are painful when touched.

  • A passenger should not be asked to remove or lift any article of clothing to reveal a sensitive body area.

In addition to the patdown, TSA may use technology to test for traces of explosive material. If explosive material is detected, the passenger will have to undergo additional screening. For more information about the technology used to test for traces of explosive material, please click here.

Regardless of the screening method used, the device will undergo additional screening. This may include, but is not limited to, a physical inspection of the device if it is not in a sensitive area, and a patdown of the device followed by testing for traces of explosives.

A companion, assistant, or family member may accompany a passenger to assist him or her during any private or public screening. After providing this assistance, the companion, assistant, or family member will need to be rescreened. The passenger should inform the TSO of his or her need for assistance before the screening process begins.

If a passenger has concerns about his or her screening, he or she should ask to speak with a supervisor while at the checkpoint. Passengers also can report concerns by contacting TSA’s Disability and Multicultural Division at TSA.ODPO@tsa.dhs.gov or:

Transportation Security Administration
Disability and Multicultural Division
601 South 12th Street
Arlington, VA 20598

TSA encourages passengers with disabilities or medical conditions to arrive at the airport early and to visit www.tsa.gov for more information before they fly.

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5/6/2017
Oley Regional Conference

This website is an educational resource. It is not intended to provide medical advice or recommend a course of treatment. You should discuss all issues, ideas, suggestions, etc. with your clinician prior to use. Clinicians in a relevant field have reviewed the medical information; however, the Oley Foundation does not guarantee the accuracy of the information presented, and is not liable if information is incorrect or incomplete. If you have questions please contact Oley staff.

 

Updated in 2015 with a generous grant from Shire, Inc. 

 

This website was updated in 2015 with a generous grant from Shire, Inc. This website is an educational resource. It is not intended to provide medical advice or recommend a course of treatment. You should discuss all issues, ideas, suggestions, etc. with your clinician prior to use. Clinicians in a relevant field have reviewed the medical information; however, the Oley Foundation does not guarantee the accuracy of the information presented, and is not liable if information is incorrect or incomplete. If you have questions please contact Oley staff.
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