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Ask Stanford Med: Chief of Emergency Medicine taking questions on wilderness medicine

This summer families, nature lovers and thrill seekers will head outdoors. While many may spend hours planning camping trips, researching hiking gear or picking out the perfect sleeping bag, few are likely consider the potential health hazards that can arise on even an ordinary trip.

To help you prepare for those potential mid-adventure emergencies, we’ve enlisted Stanford Professor Paul Auerbach, MD, to respond to your questions about safety outdoors.

An expert on wilderness medicine, Auerbach is editor of the medical textbook Wilderness Medicine and author of Medicine for the Outdoors and Field Guide to Wilderness Medicine. He was a member of the Stanford medical team that provided assistance to survivors of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, a volunteer physician at the Hospitalito Atitlan in Santiago, Guatemala, and instructor and examiner for the Nepal Ambulance Service in Kathmandu, Nepal. A founder and past president of the Wilderness Medical Society, he was named a Hero of Emergency Medicine in 2008 by the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Questions can be submitted to Auerbach by either sending a tweet that includes the hashtag #AskSUMed or posting your question in the comments section below. We’ll collect questions until Wed., June 13 at 5 pm.

When submitting questions, please abide by the following ground rules:

  • Stay on topic
  • Be respectful to the person answering your questions
  • Be respectful to one another in submitting questions
  • Do not monopolize the conversation or post the same question repeatedly
  • Kindly ignore disrespectful or off topic comments
  • Know that Twitter handles and/or names may be used in the responses

Auerbach will respond to a selection of the questions submitted, but not all of them, in a future entry on Scope.

Finally – and you may have already guessed this – an answer to any question submitted as part of this feature is meant to offer medical information, not medical advice. These answers are not a basis for any action or inaction, and they’re also not meant to replace the evaluation and determination of your doctor, who will address your specific medical needs and can make a diagnosis and give you the appropriate care.

Previously: Stanford’s Paul Auerbach writes on treating emergencies mid-adventure, The importance of being a health-conscious traveler, Most valuable tools for physicians working in Haiti and Reports from Stanford medical team in Haiti
Photo by skyseeker

7 Responses to “ Ask Stanford Med: Chief of Emergency Medicine taking questions on wilderness medicine ”

  1. boone Says:

    Recently, I’ve noticed that when I am hiking a longer distance (8 or more miles), I have a lot of swelling in my hands and forearms. In the literature I have found, it mentions this could be due to dehydration or the placement of a daypack. However, I’ve attempted to correct those two areas and continue to have much swelling. Do you know what might cause this and is there a way to reduce the swelling in the hands, fingers, and forearms when hikng?


  2. Meanderthals | Chief of Emergency Medicine taking questions on wilderness medicine Says:

    […] a tweet that includes the hashtag #AskSUMed or posting your question in the comments section at Scope, published by the Stanford School of Medicine. This will run until Wed., June 13 at 5 […]

  3. Terri Says:

    I do a lot of hiking in Europe and am concerned about tick borne encephalitis. Since no vaccine available in U.S., Should I try to get when I am over there?

  4. David Says:

    I will be camping in the mid-west this summer. I understand it is a big year for ticks with lime disease. How do you treat/remove the tick? How do you determine if you’ve been infected and how would you treat such an infection?

  5. David Says:

    While my breathing is heavier when initially at going to higher altitudes (9,000+ ft)d I do not seem to get other altitude sickness symptoms. Other people with whom I hike however, experience these other symptoms which seem to come on rather suddenly. What are the first things you would start to notice if altitude was going to be a problem?

  6. Elizabeth Says:

    I understand protocol in the event of a rattlesnake bite to be to immobilize the area, avoid rapid circulation (eg. running), and transport ASAP. What happens when those goals are in conflict with one another? Eg. if you are in an area with no cell service and far from help? Assuming victim cannot be carried by companions because of distance or terrain, is it better to send the fastest person to bring help back? Or allow victim to exert self hiking out? The question is general but also specific–our vacation spot this year is 2 miles down in a remote canyon with no communications, but plenty of critters. Thanks!

  7. Lia Steakley Says:

    Thank you all for the great questions. Dr. Auerbach will respond to a selection in an upcoming Scope entry.


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