A Survey of Wilderness Medicine Analgesia Practice Patterns

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Introduction: In 2014, the Wilderness Medical Society (WMS) published guidelines for the treatment of acute pain in remote settings. We surveyed wilderness medicine providers on self-reported analgesia prescribing practices. Methods: We conducted a prospective, anonymous survey. Respondents were recruited from the WMS annual symposium in 2016. All willing attendees were included. Results: During the symposium, we collected a total of 124 surveys (68% response rate). Respondent age was 42±12 (24–79) years (mean±SD with range), 58% were male, and 69% reported physician-level training. All respondents had medical training of varying levels. Of the physicians reporting a specialty, emergency medicine (59%, n=51), family medicine (13%, n=11), and internal medicine (8%, n=7) were reported most frequently. Eighty-one (65%) respondents indicated they prefer a standardized pain assessment tool, with the 10-point numerical rating scale being the most common (54%, n=67). Most participants reported preferring oral acetaminophen (81%, n=101) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) (91%, n=113). Of those preferring NSAID, most reported administering acetaminophen as an adjunct (82%, n=101). Ibuprofen was the most frequently cited NSAID (71%, n=88). Of respondents who preferred opioids, the most frequently preferred opioid was oxycodone (26%, n=32); a lower proportion of respondents reported preferring oral transmucosal fentanyl citrate (9%, n=11). Twenty-five (20%, n=25) respondents preferred ketamine. Conclusions: Wilderness medicine practitioners prefer analgesic agents recommended by the WMS for the treatment of acute pain. Respondents most frequently preferred acetaminophen and NSAIDs.

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Schauer, S. G., Naylor, J. F., Brown, D. J., Gibbons, R. V., Syndergaard, I., & Cushing, T. (2018). A Survey of Wilderness Medicine Analgesia Practice Patterns. Wilderness and Environmental Medicine, 29(2), 211–214. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wem.2018.01.009

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