Aim To determine clinical opinion of effectiveness of current battlefield analgesia and the realistic options to improve future analgesia in hostile environments.
Methods Structured electronic questionnaire distributed to selected individuals in UK and on operations.
Population 122 UK Defence Medical Services and US Medical Corps doctors, nurses and combat medical technicians involved in the early management of severe trauma on deployment.
Results 54 (44%) agreed and 63 (52%) disagreed that intramuscular morphine had the ideal analgesic properties for the military pre-hospital environment. Over half of those with operational experience reported multiple instances of intramuscular morphine providing inadequate analgesia. 86 (70%) desired a more potent analgesic than morphine in the first hour following injury. 101 (83%) identified simplicity and reliability of use by a soldier as of high importance. 99 (81%) identified rapid onset of action of high importance. With regard to an acceptable route of drug self-administration, 88 (72%) supported a nasal spray; 78 (64%) supported a sustained release buccal tablet (adhesive to the gum); 61 (50%) supported a disposable inhaler of volatile gas (although 91%had no experience of the currently available drug in this formulation); and 55 (45%) supported a skin patch.
Conclusion Intramuscular morphine does not meet the needs of the majority of clinical stakeholders. Alternative routes of self-administration are acceptable, but support for available commercial solutions is clouded by incomplete awareness. Anaesthetists and emergency physicians desire a multimodal approach to battlefield analgesia within the evacuation chain.
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