What is Wilderness Medicine?

 

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Wilderness medicine is specifically the practice of medicine in austere and remote environments.  In these environments there may be no professional medical support or medical equipment readily available, and it may even be hours away if it is accessible at all.  It is the art of being self-sufficient and learning to improvise with what you have either on your body or in your immediate environment.  Many of the conditions that one would see in wilderness medicine one would also see in the hospital setting, but some issues such as altitude sickness, hypo- or hyperthermia, ingestion of or contact with natural toxins or poisons, must be kept in mind.  Once under your care, these patients are not in the isolated environment where you can begin to control their temperature or intake and output.  You cannot order labs or check imaging, and as such your physical exam and clinical gestalt becomes extremely important.