Expedition & Wilderness Medicine reviewed

Oxford Handbook of Expedition and Wilderness Medicine. Johnson C et al. 2008, Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-929661-3

This title has been recommended as supplementary reading for the Fellowship of the Australasian College of Tropical Medicine part 1 exam (FACTM pt 1), and provides useful background reading for key modules (e.g. Malaria 3).

You know you’ve come to depend on a textbook when you feel lost without it. That was my fate recently when I had to go off on a field trip without my copy. It was a bad case of separation anxiety. This book is a strong addition to the Oxford Handbooks series and comes as a result of a collaboration between travel and medicine experts and the Royal Geographical Society’s Geography Outdoors centre. Hardly surprising, then, that this is a very practical book packed with advice for the intrepid traveller. This is more than a handy guide to doctors, nurses and paramedics. It has well laid-out advice . So what does this guide provide you? The contents follow a logical continuum, with emphasis on leading priorities:

  1. Expedition medicine
  2. Preparations
  3. Food, water and hygiene
  4. Crisis management
  5. Emergencies – diagnosis
  6. Emergencies – trauma
  7. Emergencies – serious illness and collapse
  8. Skin
  9. Head and neck
  10. Remote emergency dentistry for doctors
  11. Chest
  12. Abdomen
  13. Limbs and back
  14. Infectious diseases
  15. Psychological and psychiatric problems
  16. Risk from animals
  17. Plants and fungi
  18. Anaesthesia in remote locations
  19. Cold climates
  20. Mountains and high altitudes
  21. Rivers, lakes and oceans
  22. Caving expeditions
  23. Hot environments – deserts and tropical forests

Three snapshots should give you an idea of how useful this book can be: ┬ádetailed instructions on how to purify water in the field, an overview of how to diagnose and treat gastrointestinal complaints during an expedition, an entire chapter on coping with risk from land and marine animals, and a guide to set up a medical evacuation by helicopter. This is an extremely practical book for people who need to know how to do things in remote places. It is necessarily short on explanation, discussion and speculation – not things you’re likely to have time or space for until you’ve made it back home in one piece.

Leave a Reply