Sunday, September 23, 2018

Is a UK nursing home chain using unwitting residents to test a controversial, experimental anti-choking device? I've asked two government agencies to investigate [UPDATED]

Screenshot of an article by staff reporter Carly Roberts published June 15, 2018 in the Northampton Chronicle & Echo about the problematic case discussed in my investigation request. The article has since been removed from the paper's website and the article's URL now leads to the paper's home page. Click here to read the article via The Wayback Machine.

UK's Care Quality Commission "(makes) sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve." The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency "regulates medicines, medical devices and blood components for transfusion in the UK.:

See below the hash marks for the first page of a five-page investigations request I sent to those agencies today. Click here to download the complete pdf. Click here to view on Scribd.


Care Quality Commission (CQC)
151 Buckingham Palace Road
London SW1W 9SZ UK
e-mailed to

Corporate Governance and Accountability
Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)
10 South Colonnade
London E14 4PU UK
e-mailed to

To whom it may concern:

1) According to the CQC website, Timken Grange, Timken Way South, Duston, Northampton NN5 6FR, “provides accommodation for persons who require nursing or personal care, Dementia, Caring for adults over 65 yrs.” According to Timken Grange’s website, the residence is operated and presumably owned by Oakdale Care Group, Oakdale House, Devonshire Avenue, Amersham, Buckinghamshire HP6 5JE.

According to information published by Oakdale Care Group, Timken Grange staff recently used a medical device called the Dechoker on 87-year-old resident Bryan Kett in violation of a 30 August 2017 directive issued by the MHRA re: the recommended use of the device.

2) According to an investigative report aired on 21 May 2018 by ABC Action News (Tampa, Florida), the Dechoker has never been tested on humans and a keyword search of PubMed for Dechoker produced no results. Therefore it appears the device has never been the subject of any research published in the literature.

Further, in a 17 September 2018 e-mail, a representative of the European Resuscitation Council (whose member organizations include the UK Resuscitation Council) wrote me that their organization does not recommend the Dechoker. Other medical experts and organizations including the MHRA have reportedly raised concerns that the device is of unproven effectiveness and safety.

According to information published by Oakdale Care Group, in addition to Timken Grange, the company has installed Dechokers at three other other care homes which they operate and presumably own.[Kingfisher Court (Sutton in Ashfield), Layston Grove (Buntingford), and Westhill Park (Kettering)] Therefore, Oakdale Care Group appears to be using residents at all of their properties as research subjects to test an experimental medical device.

Further, I’m unaware of any evidence that the research being conducted on residents in the four care homes is being overseen by an Institutional Review Board or that residents and/or their legal guardians have provided informed consent. Therefore, Oakdale Care Group may be in violation of UK and international laws protecting vulnerable human subjects used in medical research.

3) This month I sent multiple e-mail inquiries to an Oakdale Care Group executive in which I requested the names of the attending physician(s) at Timken Grange. I also asked how I could relay messages to residents and/or their legal guardians. Despite receiving multiple confirmations of receipt, I received no further communications, therefore I’m concerned that the company is trying to avoid scrutiny of the research and may be holding residents incommunicado.

Therefore I’m requesting that your agencies review these matters and provide me with a determination whether or not Timken Grange and the three other Oakdale Care Group facilities conducting the research on residents are in compliance with all applicable statues and guidelines. Further, this is to request that your agencies contact resident Bryan Kett, his legal guardian, and his attending physician and that you provide each of them with a copy of this letter.

Finally, would you please provide me with the names and contact information of UK government agencies responsible for oversight of medical research using human subjects?

[pages 2-5]

Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to your reply. Please feel free correspond with me via e-mail and if you have any questions I might be able to answer, please don’t hesitate to ask.


Peter M. Heimlich
Peachtree Corners, GA 30096 USA
ph: (208)474-7283

9/24/18 UPDATES:

I. Hat tip to a prominent UK medical professional who sent me this February 2018 statement by the Resuscitation Council (UK), Does the Resuscitation Council (UK) recommend the use of airway clearance devices (ACD) in the treatment of the choking victim? which I hadn't seen before. I've asked the CQC and MHRA to append my request with the statement. 

I also asked both agencies to determine if the Timken Grange care home staffers that used the Dechoker on resident Bryan Kett (according to parent company Oakdale Care Group, Buckinghamshire) possessed the requisite credentials to use the device on him.

II. Choking gadgets to suck out the obstruction - a good idea or not?, an April 24, 2018 commentary featuring the Dechoker by first aid trainer and author/speaker Emma Hammett of First Aid For Life.

Friday, September 21, 2018

IMMIGRATION: Week 2 of my midterm Georgia 7th District "constituent journalism" Q&A with my candidates for Congress, Rep. Rob Woodall (R) and Carolyn Bourdeaux (D)

This item is the second of the weekly Q&A series I'm conducting with candidates for the 2018 Georgia 7th Congressional District (where I live and vote), incumbent Rep. Rob Woodall (R) and his challenger.for the seat, Carolyn Bourdeaux (D).

This week's questions are about immigration. Last week Ms. Bourdeaux went first, so this week is Congressman Woodall's turn.

Woodall (source)

In response to my invitation to participate in this project, Congressman Rob Woodall's campaign representative Derick Corbett e-mailed me, "I appreciate the generous offer and your zeal to participate in the race. Unfortunately though, as I consider our bandwith and your offer, we have to say no thank you."

I politely replied that the Bourdeaux campaign had agreed to participate; that in the interests of GA 7th District constituents, I hoped he'd reconsider; and that each Monday I'd send him my questions. (Our correspondence is posted here.)

Re: this week's questions, I sent multiple e-mails and a fax with my questions (for which I obtained confirmation of receipt) to Congressman Woodall and to his campaign representative Derick Corbett. For the second week in a row, I didn't receive a reply.

Bourdeaux (source)

Q: Should comprehensive immigration reform be enacted? If so, what should and/or shouldn't be included? If not, why not?

BOURDEAUX: Yes, we need to enact comprehensive immigration reform in this country. Georgia’s 7th district is one of the most diverse communities in the entire nation, and I’m proud of that. We need to celebrate our diversity. We are long overdue for comprehensive immigration reform that recognizes the realities of our communities and labor markets. Part of immigration reform is border security, and the security of our border and our country is best served when we focus enforcement resources on criminals who mean us harm. We urgently need a path to citizenship for the DREAMers, who came here as children and are invaluable members of our communities.

Q: On September 7, the Departments of Homeland Security and Health & Human Services issued a proposal that reportedly would allow the government to indefinitely hold minors in detention. The proposed regulations would invalidate the Flores Settlement Agreement, a decree that has stipulated the treatment of detained underage migrants since 1997. As it stands, children can only be detained for up to 20 days. (source)

Do you support the proposal? If so, why? If not, why not?

CB: No, I do not support this proposal. The Trump Administration’s detention of children is wrong and inhumane, and this proposal is unjustifiable.

Q: Some have called for ICE to be reformed or abolished. What's your opinion?

CB: I believe we need to reform how ICE works. I agree that we need to better check ICE and provide oversight, but ICE itself is simply a law-enforcement agency that we need to monitor. ICE plays an integral role at the border, which is an important function. However, I also see that we need to root out any corruption involved in ICE to ensure a fair, transparent organization.

Friday, September 14, 2018

The GA 7th Congressional race: Rep. Rod Woodall (R) and challenger Carolyn Bourdeaux (D) response to my questions about Medicaid

Per my previous item, SNEAK PEEK: My first weekly Q&A with Rep. Rob Woodall (R) & Carolyn Bourdeaux (D), candidates for the Georgia 7th congressional district, today marks the first of a series of what I've called "constituent journalism."

The source of this week's questions is an AARP article published last month

Based on last name alphabetical order, this week Ms. Bourdeaux goes first. Next week Rep. Woodall will lead off.


Will you promise not to cut Medicaid to pay for tax cuts or other spending?

CB: One of my top priorities in Congress is expanding access to quality, affordable health care, not working to take it away. I oppose the GOP tax bill that passed last year, which gave large handouts to big corporations and the wealthy while eventually hurting the middle class. While I am concerned about our rising deficit, I will not cut Medicaid in favor of tax cuts or other handouts to the rich.

Would you oppose making Medicaid a block grant program?

CB: Yes. Making Medicaid a block grant program would hurt Georgians and make it harder for those on Medicaid to get the health care coverage they need.

Would you support Medicaid guaranteeing long-term care services at home?

CB: Having just struggled with health care for both my and my husband’s aging parents, I am deeply sympathetic to the challenge and financial drain of providing long-term care. Neither my parents nor my in-laws wanted to leave their homes, and we were worried about having to put them in a nursing home. If we can promote in-home care as a low-cost alternative to nursing homes, I would certainly support it, but one of the challenges we found, and we face as a society, is that in-home care at a certain stage becomes extremely expensive. I am open to ideas about how to address this issue.

Should Medicaid recipients be subject to work requirements?

CB: No. Placing work requirements on Medicaid recipients would hurt low-income Georgians. In Georgia, for the most part, only children, pregnant women, new mothers and the aged, blind, and disabled receive Medicaid benefits. Work requirements make no sense. Should Georgia expand Medicaid, I would still oppose this provision because health is often a precondition to being able to work.


In response to my invitation to participate in this project, Congressman Rob Woodall's campaign representative Derick Corbett e-mailed me, "I appreciate the generous offer and your zeal to participate in the race. Unfortunately though, as I consider our bandwith and your offer, we have to say no thank you."

I politely replied that the Bourdeaux campaign had agreed to participate; that in the interests of GA 7th District constituents, I hoped he'd reconsider; and that each Monday I'd send him my questions. (The complete correspondence is posted here.)

Re: this week's questions, I sent multiple e-mails and faxed Mr. Corbett (for which I obtained confirmation of receipt), but I didn't receive any further communications. 

Check back next Friday for round 2!

Monday, September 10, 2018

SNEAK PEEK: My first weekly Q&A with Rep. Rob Woodall (R) & Carolyn Bourdeaux (D), candidates for the Georgia 7th congressional district

U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall (R) & his congressional challenger Carolyn Bourdeaux (D)

My wife and I live and vote in Georgia's 7th Congressional District which, according to Wikipedia, "includes portions of the northeast Atlanta metropolitan area, including the cities of Peachtree Corners, Norcross, Cumming, Lawrenceville, Duluth, Suwanee, and Buford."

In what I hope will be an informative and lively foray into "constituent journalism," I've decided to use my blog as a once-a-week Q&A forum for the Republican and Democrat candidates vying for that congressional seat in this year's midterm elections.

As a sneak preview, below the hash marks are the questions I'm sending the candidates this morning along with a recap of the ground rules which I previously covered with their campaign representatives.

Full disclosure, as I informed both campaigns, I'm a registered Democrat, but I'll be maintaining a completely non-partisan stance and the questions I submit to the candidates will reflect that.

My objective is to provide both candidates with an unedited, open-ended opportunity to express themselves on substantive issues that matter to thoughtful citizens. Rest assured I will fiercely avoid political spin.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check back Friday for their responses!


Rep. Rob Woodall
% Derick Corbett
E-mailed to
Faxed to (770)232-2909

Carolyn Bourdeaux
% Jake Best
E-mailed to &

Dear Rep. Woodall & Ms. Bourdeaux:

Per my previous e-mails to Derick Corbett & Jake Best, this is the first of my questions for a weekly Q&A series I'm publishing on my blog, The Sidebar.

To quickly recap, each Monday from today until October 29, I'll be sending you substantive questions re: matters of interest to GA 7th District constituents (of which I'm proud to number myself). You'll have until end of the day Thursday to respond and I'll publish your responses unedited and without comment the next morning (Friday).

For example, for today's questions, your deadline is end of the day Thursday, September 13 and I'll publish your responses the morning of Friday, September 14. Each week I'll alternate whose response is posted first and I plan to forward my items to local mainstream media outlets.

I do not accept posted comments on my blog, but if I receive thoughtful e-mails -- emphasis on thoughtful -- I may publish those on my blog separate from the Q&A items or on my Twitter account. Long story short, I will maintain a fair forum for sound debate.

Okay, on to my questions which are copied verbatim from Midterm Election Winners Could Determine Medicaid’s Future; New lawmakers will decide whether to cut or maintain the safety-net program’s benefits by Dena Bunis, AARP Bulletin, July/August 2018.

1) Will you promise not to cut Medicaid to pay for tax cuts or other spending?

2) Would you oppose making Medicaid a block grant program?

3) Would you support Medicaid guaranteeing long-term care services at home?

4) Should Medicaid recipients be subject to work requirements?

On behalf of GA 7th voters, sincere thanks for your time/consideration and I look forward to receiving and publishing your answers.

Cheers, Peter

Peter M. Heimlich
Peachtree Corners, GA 30096 USA
ph: (208)474-7283
Twitter: @medfraud_pmh

cc: Dena Bunis % Veronica Byrd Director, Media Relations, Health Care, Health Policy, Medicare, Medicaid, AARP

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Last year Louisville, KY home/residential care conglomerate ResCare "purchased and placed" a controversial anti-choking device in over 2,600 of their facilities across the country; I've asked U.S. & KY government agencies to investigate


Below the hash marks is a considerably abbreviated version of an investigations request letter I sent on August 28, 2018 to:
Daniel R. Levinson, Inspector General
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Andy Beshear, Kentucky Attorney General

Steve Davis, Inspector General
Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services
My letter, entirely based on publicly-available information, includes links and quotes from three recent television news investigative reports about an anti-choking device called the Dechoker; a letter from a former executive associated with the device; and a testimonial letter from a ResCare vice president.

Click here to download a copy.

Also see my March 26, 2018 item, "Growing pains" for company selling anti-choking device? NC state "investment scheme" investigation & three debt collection lawsuits, one filed by former top executive.


Dear Mr. Levinson, Mr. Beshear, and Mr. Davis:

Via the web page
(ResCare Inc., founded and headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky is) the largest diversified health and human services provider in the U.S., ResCare* is the largest private provider of services to people with disabilities, the largest privately-owned home care company, the largest provider of specialized high-acuity neuro-rehab in community settings and the largest career center workforce contractor in the U.S.
Based on the following information, ResCare Inc. appears to be using residents at over 2600 of their facilities to test an unapproved, experimental medical device called the Dechoker.

To my knowledge, no research has been published in the literature about the device which is intended for use in life or death choking emergencies.

Further, to my knowledge, the device, which is sold by Dechoker LLC (formerly based in Concord, NC, now in Denver, CO), is not recommended by any medical organizations or by resuscitation experts.

I have no knowledge whether or not residents of ResCare facilities or their legal guardians have been informed about the potential use of the device. However, according to the attached February 20, 2018 testimonial letter signed by a senior ResCare executive, the Dechoker has been employed in at least seven choking emergencies at ResCare facilities.

...This is to request that you obtain and review any relevant information regarding ResCare’s purchase of and placement of the Dechoker “in all 2,600+ ResCare facilities across the country”; that you determine if that purchase and placement complies with all applicable regulations; and that you make public the results.

This is also to request that you investigate the cases in which...the Dechoker has (allegedly) been used to save the lives of seven choking victims in ResCare facilities, and that you make public the results including but not limited to the dates and locations of the cases and the names and job titles of all participating ResCare employees.

Thank you for your time, attention, and I look forward to your reply. Please feel free correspond with me via e-mail and if you have any questions I might be able to answer, please don’t hesitate to ask.


Peter M. Heimlich
Peachtree Corners, GA 30096 USA
ph: (208)474-7283
Twitter: @medfraud_pmh

* According to an August 15. 2018 press release, “BrightSpring Health Services is the new name for Kentucky-based ResCare...”

Saturday, August 25, 2018

My employee misconduct complaint against Chicago Tribune Standards Editor Margaret Holt -- and a related crowd source inquiry


If I come across factual information in mainstream press reports that I know is false, I do what I can to fix it.

In fact, according to Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple, I may hold the record for published corrections for a single news topic.

That's one reason it bugs me when journalists refuse to publish corrections for straightforward factual errors.

And that's one reason why the other day I filed a misconduct complaint against Margaret Holt, Standards Editor at the Chicago Tribune and a prominent figure in the newspaper business.

The tale starts with a July 16, 2018 Tribune story, Family members of Dr. Henry Heimlich say Red Cross guidance on choking victims could end in death by reporter

about a campaign against the American Red Cross (ARC) launched last month by my sister Janet Heimlich, a journalist/author/nonprofit executive in Austin, Texas, and my brother Phil Heimlich, a former elected official in Cincinnati.

They're on the warpath because the ARC recommends performing back blows along with our dad's namesake maneuver (abdominal thrusts) to respond to a choking emergency.

In my opinion, Ms. Olumhense's story has some serious reportorial problems. (Re: the medical issues, visit my web page for links to related published documents.)

For example, the ARC's current protocol has been in place since 2005, a fact that's not mentioned in her article, so it's unclear if Ms. Olumhense was even aware of that.

If she was, presumably she would have asked Janet and Phil why they waited 13 years to voice their concerns.

Moving right along, here's the problem at hand:

From: Margaret C. Holt <>
To: Peter Heimlich <>
Subject: Tribune follow-up
Date: Mon, 16 Jul 2018 16:37:49 +0000

Mr. Heimlich:
Your email was referred to me for response. The story is straightforward in quoting people about the topic, including a reference to a disagreement between some family members and the Red Cross. There is nothing further beyond what is in the published article.
Margaret Holt
Standards Editor
Since I knew the part of the sentence about the AHA was wrong, I realized Ms. Holt didn't know what she was talking about.

And since she didn't ask what my concerns might be, presumably she didn't care, so I same-day replied:

Would you please provide me with your superior's name and e-mail address?

Thank you for your continued attention and I look forward to your reply.

Cheers, Peter
A week later I hadn't received a reply, so on July 23 I sent a friendly "can you help me?" e- mail to Tribune Managing Editor Peter Kendall who some years ago had capably assisted me with an unrelated editorial problem.

He passed the baton back to Ms. Holt:
Mr. Heimlich,
Thank you for your email.
I am copying Margaret on this so you can share any specific questions or concerns about the story.
She is the appropriate person to handle this.
After thanking him, I e-mailed media representatives at the AHA, NSC, and ACEP and asked for their organizations' positions.

An AHA Vice President e-mailed me this, taken from the organization's current guidelines (my emphasis):
“…chest thrusts, back slaps, and abdominal thrusts are feasible and effective for relieving severe FBAO [Foreign Body Airway Obstruction] in conscious (responsive) adults and children over 1 year of age.
The NSC rep replied that their organization adheres to AHA guidelines.

And an ACEP manager in that organization's communications department e-mailed me that their organization "does not have a formal policy on the Heimlich maneuver."

Based on those e-mails, the Tribune's claim that the three organizations "

Along the way I also identified what may be the source of Ms.

article was apparently triggered by a July 10 e-mail and press release snet by a publicist representing Janet and Phil which included this sentence:
The American Heart Association teaches the Heimlich Maneuver as the only method to be used to save a choking victim, as does the National Safety Council and the American College of Emergency Physicians.


Monday, June 25, 2018

Would U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill have been spared a cracked rib if her colleague Joe Manchin had followed American Red Cross choking rescue guidelines?

Via  Sen. Manchin cracks another senator's rib with Heimlich maneuver, Associated Press, June 25, 2018:
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin has cracked a rib of U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill while performing the Heimlich maneuver on the fellow Democrat when she began choking.
A spokesman for Manchin told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that McCaskill began choking during a luncheon for Senate Democrats on Thursday. Manchin used the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge the blockage in McCaskill's throat, but he cracked a rib in the process.
Via Heimlich maneuver saved my child by staff reporter Ian Mitchell, Chicago Tribune, February 28, 2014 (emphasis added):
In a conscious choking emergency, where a person can't cough, speak or breathe, the (American Red Cross) procedure is to ask the person if he or she is choking and get consent to give aid. Then administer five strong back blows between the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand, "as forceful as you deem necessary to save that person's life," (representative Gabriele) Romanucci said.

The back blows are a less-invasive technique that might help clear the airway, so the Red Cross advises trying them first, he said.

"If that technique is not successful, then we would go to the abdominal thrust," he said.