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Nasal nalbuphine analgesia in prehospital trauma managed by first-responder personnel on ski slopes in Switzerland: an observational cohort study

Urs Pietsch, Yoël Berger, David Schurter, Lorenz Theiler, Volker Wenzel, Lorenz Meuli, Andreas Grünenfelder & Roland Albrecht

abstract

BACKGROUND
Pain is one of the major symptoms complained about by patients in the prehospital setting, especially in the case of trauma. When there is mountainous topography, as in Switzerland, there may be a time delay between injury and arrival of professional rescuers, in particular on ski slopes. Administration of a safe opioid by first responders may improve overall treatment. We therefore assessed administration of nasal nalbuphine as an analgesic treatment for trauma patients in Switzerland.

METHODS
This observational cohort study examined 267 patients who were treated with nasal nalbuphine by first responders in six ski resorts in Switzerland. All first responders were instructed to begin treatment by assessing the feasibility of using nalbuphine to treat pain in the patient. A treatment algorithm was developed and distributed to assure that nalbuphine was only administered following a strict protocol. Data regarding pain scores and pain reduction after administration of nalbuphine were collected on-site. Refills were handed out to the first responders with the return of each completed questionnaire.

RESULTS
Nalbuphine provided effective pain relief, with the median level of pain on the numeric rating scale for pain reduced by 3 units on average, from 8 points (p < 0.001). The multivariate regression model showed that pain reduction was more pronounced in patients with higher initial pain levels. Nalbuphine was more effective in adolsecents than in patients aged 20 to 60 years (p = 0.006). No major side effects were observed.

CONCLUSION
Nasal administration of nalbuphine by first responders is a presumably safe and effective noninvasive pain management strategy for acutely injured patients in the prehospital setting. This may be an alternative, especially in the case of severe pain and prolonged time between arrival of the first responders and arrival of EMS/HEMS personnel on scene.
   
citation Pietsch U, Berger Y, Schurter D, Theiler L, Wenzel V, Meuli L, Grünenfelder A, Albrecht R. Nasal nalbuphine analgesia in prehospital trauma managed by first-responder personnel on ski slopes in Switzerland: an observational cohort study. Scand J Trauma Resusc Emerg Med 2021; 29:36.
   
type journal paper/review (English)
date of publishing 17-02-2021
journal title Scand J Trauma Resusc Emerg Med (29/1)
ISSN electronic 1757-7241
pages 36
PubMed 33596970
DOI 10.1186/s13049-021-00852-y