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?