Trip medical forms can reduce program liability and help administrators and field staff prevent injuries and illnesses. In most cases, prevention is accomplished through appropriate screening of participants and modifying the structure of a trip by adjusting the trip’s activities and routes to accommodate individual medical conditions or concerns. The type and format of a trip medical form affects the quality of information received and the ability of program administrators and field staff to prevent and treat injuries and illness in the field.
Why require medical forms for trips?
How is client medical information collected?
Medical information may be collected orally from the client or via a written medical form. Collection is more effective if all involved—client, guide/instructor, healthcare provider, etc.—know why the information is important and how it will be used.
There are two basic types of written medical forms: Those completed by a health care professional (physician, PA, or nurse), and those completed by the client (self-reporting).
Medical forms completed by a health care professional—especially if they are the client's personal physician—tend to be the most accurate. Those completed by professionals with little or no previous knowledge of the client—college or university clinics, for example—can miss some conditions if the providers rely heavily on patient self-reporting.
Self-reporting may be oral or written. Oral self-reporting typically takes place the day of the trip, often as clients are ready to embark on the trip. The accuracy of oral self-reporting is questionable as it's easy for clients to forget something important or simply not mention it for fear they will not be permitted to go on the trip. Clearly written self-reporting forms are better than oral self-reports.
Written forms—regardless of whether completed by a healthcare professional or by the client—tend to be more effective when a combination of check boxes and open-ended questions are used. For example, here's a question with Yes/No checkbox followed by a series of open-ended questions asking for more information:
"Are you taking any prescription medications?" (Yes/No)
"If you answered "yes" to the above question please:
If client medical information is so important, why don't all outdoor programs collect it?
This is an excellent practical question! Since students remember the skills and information they use on a regular basis, skill retention is shared by the wilderness medicine provider, their employer(s), and the graduate.
1. Wilderness medicine providers are responsible for:
2. Employers of wilderness medicine graduates are responsible for:
3. Graduates are responsible for:
Follow-up questions include (and will be addressed in later blog articles):
Looking for a reliable field reference? Consider consider purchasing one of our print or digital handbooks; our digital handbook apps are available in English, Spanish, and Japanese. Updates are free for life. A digital SOAP note app is also available.
Outdoor kitchens are fraught with potential danger (really). Typically not life-threatening danger but definitely trip ending danger from cuts, burns, and diarrheal illnesses (gastroenteritis). Aside from sunburn, most burns on outdoor trips happen in or near the kitchen with the vast majority of those due to hot water; the rest tend to involve alcohol and camp fires. Deep cuts occur on a hand when someone holds a bagel or cheese in one hand and wields a knife with the other. Poor hygiene leads to diarrhea.
When you think about it, it's pretty silly to have to leave a trip because of a cut, burn, or an intestinal illness that requires advanced care, especially with a little forethought and planning these type of injuries can be easily avoided. What follows is a summary of good management techniques for outdoor and camp kitchens that focuses on avoidance.
Okay, winter IS cold. That's why we call it winter. Cold injuries—hypothermia, frostnip, frostbite, chilblains—are all potential problems. Fortunately with a bit of thought and practice, it's possible to stay warm, even in extreme cold. If you are a seasoned winter traveler, you're probably familiar with everything listed here. If you are new to playing outside in the winter, I trust you'll find a few things of value.
Spending time outside for work or play is part of human history, both past and present. Interest in the outdoors is constantly growing with new human-powered and motorized activities/sports emerging on a regular basis. The development of more sophisticated equipment allows access to more challenging terrain and environments...and greater risk. Use permits, once unheard of, are now the rule—and are increasingly difficult to procure for both individuals and organizations. Wilderness ethics are changing as use increases and "leave no trace" has become a mantra for many. In short, the outdoors has become a thriving industry.
Since 1962 when Outward Bound first introduced wilderness adventure programing to United States and the world in the mountains of Colorado, the field has grown exponentially. It is now commonplace to find successful wilderness recreation programs in K-12 schools, summer camps, military bases, and city and state parks. The use of outdoor adventure programs for therapeutic reasons has become it's own industry. And, enrollment in undergraduate and graduate degrees programs in outdoor recreation, education, and therapy is on the upswing.
Within the college/university systems there are three types of outdoor programs:
Training outdoor leaders within a college/university setting requires a multidisciplinary approach that does not fit well into a standard quarter/semester format due to the type of terrain and time required teach outdoor skills. The purpose of this article is to briefly discuss the design of each program type, list their pros and cons, and provide a conceptual template for those training students to staff some of their programs.