Wednesday, January 27, 2016

GAME OVER: After decades of putting swimmers at risk, Houston-area lifeguard company drops "Heimlich for drowning" protocol

Today via Local Lifeguard Training Company No Longer Teaching Heimlich Maneuver by staff reporter Craig Malisow, Houston Press:
For years, the Dickinson-based NASCO Aquatics, one of the nation's largest lifeguard certification companies taught a debunked rescue technique, even as other professional and medical organizations said it could further endanger drowning victims.

But NASCO has dropped the technique — a version of the Heimlich maneuver done while a drowning victim is still in the water — from its most recent training manual, which pleases one of NASCO's biggest critics, Peter Heimlich, whose father gave the abdominal-thrusting technique its name.
NASCO founder John Hunsucker swore by the technique, even as the American Red Cross, American Heart Association, the United States Lifeguard Coalition, and the International Life Saving Federation. Most medical and aquatic experts have stated that applying the Heimlich maneuver to a drowning victim delays CPR and could cause a victim to aspirate vomit into the lungs. 
Until just recently, Hunsucker's response to the experts has been short and sweet: "Screw 'em."
...Peter Heimlich shared an email of his own, telling us:

"I'm relieved that NASCO has finally pulled the plug on its reckless 'Heimlich for drowning' protocol. Experts have said that for decades NASCO was conducting what amounted to an unsupervised medical experiment using unsuspecting swimmers at their client water parks. Long after prominent medical experts and leading first aid organizations had thoroughly dismissed the treatment as useless and potentially lethal, NASCO persisted. Even after my father's Heimlich Institute stopped advocating the treatment, NASCO wouldn't stop.

On the bright side, NASCO was the last holdout, so this effectively marks the end of my father's bizarre 40-year campaign to promote the treatment."
Click here for "These so-called medical experts. Screw 'em," my compilation of media reports about NASCO's now-defunct "Heimlich protocol."

This medical madness began in August 1974 when my father and his crony, the late Victor H. Esch MD, began hyping the first of a series of fraudulent case reports in which they claimed near-dead drowning victims were miraculously revived by the Heimlich maneuver. (See here and here.)

The result of their folly? Dozens of poor outcome cases -- including children.

To these journalists, physicians, water safety professionals, and public employees whose efforts helped put an end to this dark chapter in first aid history -- Lifesaving Aye

Margarita Abramova, Paul Auerbach MD, Ihsan A. Azzam, PhD MD MPH, Robert S. Baratz MD PhD, Chris Brewster, Zach Brown, Ed Castillo, Peter Chambers DO, Rich Connelly, Bennett Cunningham, Margaret Downing, Gerry Dworkin, Roy Fielding, Brenda Flanagan, Shawn Foucher, Tom Francis, Mike Giglio, Natalie Gagliordi, Tracey D. Green MD, Curt Guyette, Jason Haap, Brad Herzog, Michelle Iracheta, Tom Jackman, Ben Kaufman, Kendra Kozen, Kevin Lamb, Jennifer Learn-Andes, Terri Lees, Craig Malisow, David Markenson MD, Ron Marsden, Allyn Nakashima MD, James Orlowski MD, Eric Peterson, Francesco Pia PhD, Lory Pounder, Linda Quan MD, Karlee Prazak, Mike Riley, Mike Risinit, Peter Rosen MD, Mark Saal, Mayrav Saar, Timothy Smith, Todd Spivak, Alan Steinman MD, Gary Thill, Steve Volk, Cindy Weightman, Peter Wernicki MD, Ian White, Aaron Wische

A special mention must go to writer Pamela Mills-Senn of Long Beach and editor Mike Moran whose landmark 2000 article, Water Rescue Sequence: The Controversial Role of the Heimlich Maneuver, was the Rosetta Stone for much of the research conducted by my wife Karen and me into my father's unusual career.

(If I've inadvertently left out anyone, please e-mail me.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Woof! London tabloid reports another "dog saves master from choking" story -- in the UK that makes six in four years [UPDATED]

As Sidebar readers know -- here, here, and here -- I've been tracking a first aid phenomenon which over the past couple of years has swept the UK tabloids.

Intrepid dogs have been saving their masters from choking.

Since January 2014 I've counted four five reported cases by four different four-legged friends from Blighty to Wales. (Read on for details.)

Heel! Sit! Stop the presses!

Get West London -- which it says here is a Trinity Mirror website -- just unleashed another rover rescue:  

As a news hound, I was curious to learn how the Lily-Rose rescue story got into print, so I e-mailed reporter Robert Cumber who replied:
I take it from your website you are very dubious about these claims.

It was the owner of the dog who contacted us after being shortlisted for an award in the magazine mentioned in the story.

I'd be happy to speak to you for a follow-up piece if you're interested.
I appreciated the invitation, but I'd have to be barking mad to stick my snout into such a sweet if improbable human interest story.

Anyway, it's the bigger questions that have got me ticked-off and scratching my head.

Are UK dog food manufacturers adding steroids to kibble? Should a government commission be formed to investigate? Will Lily-Rose win the award?

Okay, so your pup may know how to save you from choking, but do you know how to reciprocate?

Take a look:

UPDATE, February 1, 2016: A string of other fine UK tabloids fetched the far-fetched story!

In reverse chronology, don't miss these equally astounding tails (sorry). Click the dates above each screenshot to read the articles.

2/3/16 UPDATE: I just spotted this one published by The Express: 
Finally, here's the Calvert, Maryland pooch who, to my knowledge, was the first to make reporters roll over:

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

My requests to the NY State & NYC Education Departments to review LifeVac anti-choking device reportedly being used in NYC-area schools [UPDATES: NYC & Lindenhurst Schools drop the LifeVac + reply letter to me from NY State Education Dept.]


Heimlich remover! Son of ‘maneuver’ inventor wants investigation into anti-choking device at boro schools by Allegra Hobbs, The Brooklyn Paper, January 13, 2016

Via: New potentially life saving device questioned by medical watchdog by Joe Mauceri, WPIX-TV, January 18, 2016 
Since the (New York City Department of Education) said it had no knowledge of LifeVac in any of it's schools and added, "The Department of Education does not recommend this device."

Lindenhurst has also pulled the plug on (the plunger).
Click here for a January 27, 2016 response/thank-you letter to me from the NY State Education Department.

My original item is below the hash marks.


Click here to download a copy of my January 6, 2015 letter to New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia.

Click here to download a copy of my near-identical January 7, 2015 letter to New York City Education Chancellor Carmen Fariña.  

Monday, December 28, 2015

Disappearing Act: 18 co-signers of BMJ retraction request letter are now MIA

I co-authored and cross-blogged this item with Belfast, Northern Ireland writer Dean Sterling Jones who shares my interest in the subjects of free speech and censorship. For example, click here for an item he blogged recently about a Belfast pastor on trial for preaching a "grossly offensive" sermon.



On November 5, a letter signed by over 180 credentialed professionals, including a number of prominent faculty members at major universities, was sent to the BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal).

The letter -- organized by Bonnie Liebman MS at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a Washington, DC-based advocacy nonprofit -- requested that the journal retract The scientific report guiding the US dietary guidelines: is it scientific?, a September 23 article by journalist/author Nina Teicholz that criticized the methodology and findings of the 2015 US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC).

Never heard of the DGAC? Until recently, neither had we.


We'll leave it to experts -- including the National Academy of Medicine -- to debate the scientific issues and the merits of Teicholz's article.

We're interested in these journalism-related questions.

1) Why the pile on? Is her article a danger? If so, to whom?

2) Instead of trying to disappear her article, why not write a letter to the editor or a rebuttal? 

3) Has CSPI ever organized retraction request letters for other articles?

4) Have any of the signatories ever requested retractions of other articles?

Re: that last question, part-time unpaid bloggers that we are, Dean and I don't have the time to ask everyone who signed. However, we will ask CSPI and the 14 members of the 2015 Guidelines Advisory Committee, all of whom signed the letter.

At the moment we can report that 18 co-signers of the original letter have been deleted from a subsequent version.

What happened is that after receiving the November 5 retraction request, the BMJ published a November 19 post Executive Editor Theodora Bloom that included:
In line with our usual practice, this will require all signatories to declare their competing interests, which are not provided in a version of the letter posted on the website of the Centre for Science in the Public Interest.
On December 17, the BMJ posted an updated version of the CSPI letter, absent the names of 18 scientists and grad students.*

We know why one of the co-signers is MIA. As I reported last month, University of Colorado professor and former American Heart Association president Robert Eckel MD e-mailed me that he'd removed his name because I'd filed a related public records request with the university.

1. Sharon R. Akabas, PhD
Director, MS in Nutrition
Associate Director for Educational Initiatives
Columbia University
Institute of Human Nutrition
New York, New York, USA

2. Carol J. Boushey, PhD, MPH, RD
Associate Research Professor
Epidemiology Program
University of Hawaii Cancer Center
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

3. Robert H. Eckel, MD
Professor of Medicine
Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes
Division of Cardiology
Professor of Physiology and Biophysics
Charles A. Boettcher II Chair in Atherosclerosis
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Director Lipid Clinic, University Hospital
University of Colorado, Denver
Denver, Colorado, USA

4. Wafaie Fawzi, DrPH
Richard Saltonstall Professor of Population Sciences
Professor of Nutrition, Epidemiology, and Global Health
Chair, Department of Global Health and Population
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Boston, Massachusetts, USA

5. Enrique Jacoby, MD, MPH
Regional Advisor on Nutrition and Active Living
NMH Pan American Health Organization
World Health Organization
Washington, D.C., USA

6. José Lapetra, MD, PhD
Médico de Familia
Responsable del Grupo de Investigación "Dieta, Nutrición y Prevención de Enfermedades en Atención Primaria"
CIBEROBN, Instituto de Salud Carlos III
Unidad de Investigación del Distrito Sanitario Atención Primaria Sevilla
Sevilla, Spain

7. Graham MacGregor, MA, MB, BChir
Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine
Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine
Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary
University of London
London, United Kingdom

8. Meena Mahadevan, PhD
Associate Professor
Program Coordinator for Applied Nutrition
Department of Health and Nutrition Sciences
Montclair State University
Montclair, New Jersey, USA

9. Salvatore Panico, MD, MS
Professor of Internal Medicine
Federico II University
Naples, Italy

10. Emma Patterson, PhD
Project Manager for School Food Sweden
Community Nutrition and Physical Activity
Karolinska Institutet
Stockholm, Sweden

11. Mike Rayner, DPhil
Professor of Population Health
Director, British Heart Foundation Centre on Population Approaches for Non-Communicable Disease Prevention
Nuffield Department of Population Health
University of Oxford
Oxford, United Kingdom

12. Lesley Schmidt Sindberg, MPH
Senior Research Coordinator
Healthy Eating Research
University of Minnesota School of Public Health
St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

13. Francisco J. Tinahones, MD, PhD
Professor of Medicine
Director, Endocrinology and Nutrition Services, Hospital Universitario Virgen de la Victoria
Coordinator, Complications of Obesity, CIBEROBN
University of Málaga
Málaga, Spain

14. Dianne S. Ward, EdD
Professor, Department of Nutrition
Gillings School of Global Public Health
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA

15. Julia Wärnberg, PhD
University of Malaga
Malaga, Spain

Graduate Students

16. Stacy Blondin, MSPH
USDA Doctoral Fellow
Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy
Tufts University
Boston, Massachusetts, USA

17. Larissa Calancie
Doctoral Candidate - Nutrition Interventions and Policy
University of North Carolina
Gillings School of Public Health
UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA

18. Violet Kiesel
Graduate Student
Purdue University
West Lafayette, Indiana, USA

Here's the original letter with the 18 names highlighted:

* Not on the original November 5 letter, but she signed onto the December 17 version:

Rosemary Stanton, PhD, OAM
Visiting Fellow
School of Medical Sciences
University of New South Wales
Sydney, Australia

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Oops, he did it again: More sockpuppetry by prominent Yale prof/author/columnist David L. Katz MD [UPDATED: Goodreads scrubbed his self-review]

I co-authored this item with Belfast, Northern Ireland writer Dean Sterling Jones who's cross-posting it at his lively Shooting The Messenger blog

I first contacted Dean a couple months ago after I was flattered to learn he'd picked up my September 30 item about Dr. David Katz posting a shill five-star review on Amazon for his novel reVision. Since then, Dean's been keeping his readers informed about further developments in Dr. Katz's literary career.

Dean turned up the Goodreads review; I sent the inquiry. We'll update if/when the company responds. (For clarity, my inquiry is slightly edited.)

Subject: blogger inquiry
To: Goodreads <>, <>
From: Peter Heimlich <>
Cc: Dean Sterling Jones <>
Date: Mon, 14 Dec 2015 16:36:25 -0500

Hi Goodreads Team,

1) Here's a screenshot I just took from a Goodreads review page:

2) Per this screenshot I just took from his Facebook home page, you can see that the above David Katz is David L. Katz MD of Yale's Griffin Hospital and that he's hyping the book reVision:

3) Recent articles in the Yale Daily News, Retraction Watch, and IMediaEthics (please click the names to read those stories) reported that the Huffington Post deleted two columns by Dr. Katz in which he lavished praise upon reVision without informing readers that he wrote the novel and that deleted a five-star review for reVision which Dr. Katz posted on his Amazon user account without identifying himself as the author.

Here's my question.

Is Dr. Katz's Goodreads review of reVision in compliance with your review guidelines?

UPDATE, 12/16/15, 10:18pm ET: Just hours after Dean Jones Sterling and I blogged our items, scrubbed Dr. Katz's self-review.

Here's a screenshot I took of the web page a few minutes ago:

Monday, December 14, 2015

After "mansion invasion," the AP reported that former attorney Stan Chesley is "fine," but WCPO stories claim he suffered serious injuries -- which is it? [UPDATED]

The home of Stan Chesley and Judge Susan Dlott is the all-time best seller in the history of the Tristate Multiple Listing Service (MLS). This 21-room French chateau, bought for $11.9 million in 2004, is located at 9005 Camargo Road in Indian Hill. The 29,000-square-foot estate offers a theater/media room, game room, outdoor kitchen, exercise room, custom chandeliers and a wine cellar. Built by former Provident Financial Group executive Allen Davis in 1999, the estate comes complete with garage space for eight cars, separate carriage house and apartments, and 300 acres of surrounding land. (text source) (photo source)

Via 911 call released in federal judge’s home break-in near Cincinnati by Lisa Cornwell, Associated Press, December 9, 2015:
A federal judge who police say was robbed with her husband at gunpoint in their Cincinnati-area home told a 911 dispatcher that three men with guns and masks broke into their house.

Indian Hill police have said the suspects were arrested shortly after the Friday night break-in of the home of Judge Susan Dlott and prominent former trial attorney Stanley Chesley.

...At one point, Dlott said she was bleeding, and police have said Chesley fell down some stairs at one point. Police later said the couple was fine, but unnerved.
However, via this clip from Federal Judge Susan Dlott made chilling 911 call after 3 gunmen attacked her, husband Stan Chesley by Julie O'Neill, WCPO News, December 7, 2015:
Thrown down the stairs by one of the attackers, Chesley suffered a concussion, a broken pelvis and three broken bones in his thoracic spine, according to a neighbor, Michelle Young.

Besides the reporting gap between the AP and WCPO versions, Chesley's physical condition figures into charges that may be brought against the suspects in the break-in as well as the $647,815.64 warrant for Chesley's arrest for failing to appear before a Kentucky, apparently to avoid facing the music for his role in the $42 million fen-phen rip-off.

Via Stan Chesley speaks: Willing to settle fen-phen case by James Pilcher and Sharon Coolidge, Cincinnati Enquirer, November 7, 2015

According to the WCPO report:
"Judge Dlott had opened the garage doors asking them to take one of the cars...or any of the cars they were interested in...and something malfunctioned with the garage door and created a beeping noise," (Lt. Steve Makin of the Indian Hill Rangers) said.

One of the robbers was going back into the house, and Dlott and Chesley ran out of the garage into the woods, Makin said. Chesley was too injured to go far.
In other words, Julie O'Neill reported that a 79-year-old man with a broken pelvis, other broken bones, and a concussion, was still able to run. 

Julie O'Neill (source)

News reports about serious injuries suffered by public figures often identify where the victim was hospitalized, but I was unable to locate any news stories with that information.

Reportedly the break-in happened the evening of December 4 and I started reporting the story five days later. If Chesley had a broken pelvis, three broken bones, and a concussion, it seemed possible, perhaps likely, that he was still an in-patient.

So on the afternoon of December 9, I phoned all the likely hospitals in Cincinnati -- Christ, Jewish, UC, all of the Mercy facilities, Good Sam, and Bethesda North. All stated me that Chesley wasn't registered as a patient.

That afternoon I e-mailed that information to WCPO reporter Julie O'Neill who replied:
I have been told he is now recovering at home which I have reported.
Via O'Neill's update, Judge Dlott confirmed Michele Young's version of events:
Chesley suffered injuries when he was pushed down a small flight of stairs during the ordeal. He and his wife were able to escape and call for help.

Dlott later said Chesley is on bed rest to recover from injuries that include three fractures to his spine, a fracture in his pelvis and a concussion. Dlott said her feet are still bruised and swollen from the incident as well.
I then e-mailed O'Neill:
Do you know when he was discharged and from what hospital?
To which she responded:
No I do not.
She expressed no intention to fact check her own story, so I replied:
I'd strongly urge you to try to obtain those facts.
That's the last I heard from her.


So was Chesley "fine, but unnerved" or did he suffer serious injuries?

In an attempt to find out, I've sent e-mails and/or left messages for AP reporter Lisa Cornwell, Michele Young, Judge Dlott, and Captain Mike Dressell of the Indian Hill Rangers, and will post any updates.

UPDATE, 12/14/15, 2:06pm ET: