Sunday, August 13, 2017

Dept. of Irony: The Heimlich Institute resuscitates itself after I informed them Ohio had terminated their corporate status

About a week ago I reported Ohio Secretary of State (again) cancels existence of Cincinnati's Heimlich Institute; is the organization finally down for the count?

Ironically, as a result of me posing that question to Deaconess Associations (the Cincinnati corporation that wholly owns the Institute), they re-upped with the state.


Here's the August 3 response I got from Jackie Wiesman, assistant to Deaconess chairman Anthony Woods, a Queen City tycoon who who arranged the acquisition of the Institute in 1998:
Peter: Our office address changed and the recertification request that was sent this past month was not forwarded to the new address. It is being reinstated as we speak. Jackie
Per my previous item, the recertification notice from the state was dated March 22, not this past month -- so Ms. Wiesman got that wrong.

On the other hand, the Institute -- a 501(c)(3) nonprofit -- hasn't had any employees since 2005 when it became nothing but a website.

And as of 2015 the organization had zero assets, so presumably no one's minding the store.

Via the Heimlich Institute's most recent annual IRS filing (2015)

In flusher years, the Institute was the focus of investigations by the CDC, FDA, and the Justice Department for overseeing and funding notorious offshore experiments in which US and foreign patients suffering from Lyme Disease and AIDS were infected with malaria.

The "research" was paid for by hundreds of thousands of dollars from funders including director Ron Howard, actors Jack Nicholson and Bette Midler -- and even Muhammad Ali..

During those years, Woods and my brother Phil Heimlich (a former elected official who was tossed from office in 2006 after a bi-partisan landslide) served on the board of the Institute.

As of 2015, they still did.

Despite considerable related reporting (much of it based on research by my wife Karen and me), to my knowledge, neither Woods nor Phil have ever been asked by reporters about their knowledge and roles in the abusive experiments which bioethics experts have called medical "atrocities."

Moving right along, I sent Ms. Wiesman at Deaconess these follow up questions:
1) Are you able to provide me with the current assets of the Heimlich Institute (HI)? Per my blog item, the most recent IRS 990 (2015) shows bupkis.

2) Who are the current members of the HI board?

3) My understanding is that the HI has no employees. Is that accurate? If so, in what year did the organization last have employees?

4) My understanding is that the HI is currently an IRS-approved 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Is that accurate? 
Her reply:
Peter: Not at liberty to disclose this information.
Here's another question.

Now that it's a shell of an organization, should the Heimlich Institute still be entitled to 501(c)(3) nonprofit status?

I'll ask the IRS and will report the results.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Ohio Secretary of State (again) cancels existence of Cincinnati's Heimlich Institute; is the organization finally down for the count? [UPDATED]

UPDATE: August 13, 2017, Dept. of Irony: The Heimlich Institute resuscitates itself after I informed them Ohio had terminated their corporate status.


Via A Letter from Henry J. Heimlich, M.D., The Heimlich Institute's Caring World newsletter, Vol. One, Issue One, Winter 1998:
The mission of The Heimlich Institute is "Benefiting Humanity Through Health and Peace." When Deaconess Associations Inc. invited the Institute to become affiliated and to move into the Deaconess Hospital complex, it brought together two organizations with the same goal – saving lives. Most meaningful for me is that the creativity of The Heimlich Institute research will now continue in perpetuity. Some say it will be for Cincinnati what the Pasteur Institute is for Paris.
If this letter dated yesterday (with a misspelling of my last name in the address) is any indication, "perpetuity" lasted about 19 years:

Per this 2006 ABC Chicago expose by investigative reporter Chuck Goudie, for over a decade the Institute has been a shell organization without any employees:

Per this screenshot from the Secretary of State's website, this isn't the first time the organization's corporate status has been cancelled and revived, so perhaps it's premature to cast the final shovelful of grave dirt:

On the other hand, from the Institute's most recent -- and perhaps final -- IRS filing (2015), the organization's paltry assets have been zeroed out:

From the same filing, here are the most recent officers of the corporation. As widely reported, my dad died in December, but I'll follow up with my brother Phil and perhaps the others and will report the results.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Prominent nutrition researcher who helped develop and researched failed NuVal nutrition scoring system: "I would have done things very differently"

Leonard H. Epstein PhD, SUNY Buffalo (source)
Via a November 19, 2014 press release, Eatingwell Magazine Partners With Nuval®:
The NuVal Nutritional Scoring System is a unique food labeling system which ranks all foods between 1 and 100; the higher the score, the better the nutrition. NuVal scores can be found in nearly 2,000 supermarkets, as well as in schools, hospitals and other health facilities. The NuVal System is endorsed by the American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM), and a recent Harvard School of Public Health study showed that those who ate food with more favorable NuVal Scores had a lower risk of chronic disease and had a better chance of living a longer, healthier life. NuVal LLC is a joint venture formed in 2008 by Topco Associates, LLC, and Griffin Hospital. To learn more about NuVal, visit | Facebook: | Twitter: @NuVal.
Per a story I broke last week, the director of NuVal LLC in Quincy, MA, wrote me that the company has terminated its supermarket scoring system, so presumably the "nearly 2,000 supermarkets" that once used it are making other plans.

Click the links in the above press release and you'll get the picture.

Per Tops to scrap NuVal nutrition ratings criticized as 'fatally flawed,'
Tops Markets is getting rid of a controversial nutrition ratings system it has used to help customers make food purchasing decisions...Two other grocery chains have dropped NuVal recently, including California-based Raley's and Massachusetts-based Big Y, which told the Yale Daily News the system was "out of date."
...Leonard H. Epstein, a distinguished professor and chief of behavioral medicine at the University at Buffalo medical school, served on NuVal's scientific advisory board. He said he didn't always agree with the creators'  decisions, the system's creators didn't always take the board's advice and that, if he had been one of the system's makers, he "would have done things very differently...If you don’t believe in the criteria that NuVal uses, then the algorithm would not work to guide you to healthier eating," he said.
Presumably Dr. Epstein speaks from authority because from 2012-2014 NuVal-related research provided him with NIH grants totaling $1,670,444:


Via a public records request, here's Ms. Christmann's complete Q&A with Dr. Epstein; page down for a copy of the original correspondence. 

Hi Samantha:

I am not one of the creators of NuVal, but rather was a member of their scientific advisory board. As with any of the scientific advisory boards, sometimes the leadership takes your advice and sometimes the leadership does not take your advice. David Katz from Yale created the system, not me or any other members of the advisory board. I'm sure each of us agrees with some aspects of NuVal and not with others.

1) How do you respond to people who say the NuVal system is outdated and "fatally flawed"?

NuVal is one among many nutrient profiling systems. The idea of a nutrient profiling system became popular because most consumers have a very difficult time making sense of information on the nutrition label when purchasing food, so different groups attempted to simplify decision making by using numbers (either continuous or categorical) or color-based systems. There is still quite a lot of activity in this area.

Each nutrient profiling system uses different criteria for rating foods. NuVal does not publish the full algorithm but does indicate what characteristics of foods increase the rating, and what characteristics of foods decrease the ratings. The secret, that no one outside of NuVal knows, is the specific weights given to characteristics of foods. If you don't believe in the criteria that NuVal uses, then the algorithm would not work to guide you to healthier eating. The criteria they use is based on the general USDA recommendations, but if you were eating a paleo diet NuVal would not be useful, for example. Guidelines for healthy eating and what types of foods to avoid evolve as new research is published. I have not been involved on the scientific board of NuVal for many years, but it is my impression that the algorithm has been changing to keep track of the science, but that's something you would have to check with NuVal.

2) How is it that brownies and ice cream can be scored higher than canned fruits and vegetables?

There are two ways to use any nutrient profiling system, whether it is NuVal or another system. First, these systems can help you choose among foods within a class of foods. For example, if you were going to buy cereal, NuVal might be helpful in identifying a low-fat, low-sugar cereal that is nutrient dense. Similarly, if you were going to buy yogurt, or ice cream, NuVal could help you identify the healthiest option based on the criteria they use to rate foods within that class of foods. In terms of your question, can NuVal help identify the healthiest ice cream, or the healthiest fruit or vegetables. Once again, if you believe the criteria they are using is correct, then the NuVal rating would be helpful.

In addition, NuVal could help consumers make decisions about whether they wanted to increase purchasing of a class of foods versus another class. For example, if you wanted animal protein as the centerpiece of a meal, NuVal could help decide whether fish, fowl or red meat were better choices. Even within one category, like fish, NuVal could help you decide what type of fish is the healthiest.

Since NuVal scores many foods, there may be some brownies or ice cream that score higher than some canned fruits or vegetables, but that does not mean that as a category brownies or ice cream are healthier than canned fruits or vegetables. The backlash in 2012 against NuVal was for brownie mix, but not brownies. There are also variations of low-fat, low-sugar ice milks that are better choices than standard ice cream, and could have higher scores than canned vegetables in syrup that has a lot of sugar, or canned vegetables that have a lot of salt. There are also many canned fruits not in syrup or canned vegetables with low amounts of sodium that would have higher scores.

When comparing brownie mix with NuVal score of 22 and mandarin oranges in syrup with score of 7, neither of these are very healthy choices for dessert or a snack, and trying to make distinctions between them will not lead to a healthier diet. A much better choice than mandarin oranges in syrup would be an actual mandarin orange, or an orange. You would see large differences in NuVal or any nutrient profile score for that, more relevant, comparison.

3) Do you still stand behind the system you helped create?

Once again, I was on the scientific advisory board, and provided advice to Katz and his group, some of which they took and some of which they did not take. I did not agree with all of their decisions. If it had been my creation, I would have done things (very) differently.

A more relevant question is whether I think nutrient profiling systems are useful. I do, but only when I agree with the assumptions of the algorithm. Nutrition science is continually evolving, and nutrient profiling systems need to evolve with the science. A good example is the shift in emphasis from fat in the diet to added sugar in the diet.

I don't think any nutrient profiling system is perfect, and you will find anomalies of the type you noted above in any system (how can this food rate higher than that food - not in my book). They were designed to help consumer make healthier choices, and that should be the final arbiter of whether they are useful. Do consumers who use a specific nutrient profiling system purchase healthier foods that consumers who just use the nutrition label? These systems can help, but they can also be improved.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Widely-promoted NuVal nutrition scoring system discontinues its supermarket shelf tag system [UPDATED]

7/21/17 UPDATE: Prominent nutrition researcher who helped develop and researched failed NuVal nutrition scoring system: "I would have done things very differently"


Yesterday I blogged an item attempting to crowdsource information about which supermarkets continued to use NuVal, a widely-promoted nutrition scoring system that was developed by some of the most prominent names in nutrition science:

What sparked my interest was that the website of NuVal LLC, the Quincy, MA, company that markets the system, had gone bare bones, and the company's Facebook and Twitter accounts were MIA.

This afternoon I got this e-mail from NuVal LLC director, Anne Bernier -- emphasis added.

As you well know, the health and wellness space has evolved significantly since the Nuval Shelf Tag program was introduced, and the choices for consumers to obtain health and nutrition information online has grown exponentially.

In light of these insights and feedback from our customers, we have discontinued the Nuval Shelf Tag Program. NuVal will continue to support the popular NuVal Attributes system and will continue to work to find new and innovative ways to help consumers make informed choices about the foods they purchase and consume.

The image from the cached page you submitted is out of date and is consequently no longer posted on our website. In response to your inquiry regarding current participants, please know that we no longer publish this information.
Regards, Anne Bernier
Here's the cached page:

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Crowdsourcing re: NuVal nutrition rating system -- if you shop at these supermarkets, I can use your help [UPDATED]

UPDATE, July 14, 2017: Widely-promoted NuVal nutrition scoring system discontinues its supermarket shelf tag system

Not including the three lilac-shaded logos, do you shop at any of these supermarkets?

If so, would you help me report a story? I'm trying to find out if they still use a nutrition rating system called NuVal.

Based on my experience, when it comes to getting information from supermarket corporations, they're like Fort Knox. Perhaps not surprisingly, I'm having trouble getting answers from the media relations reps of these companies.

It occurred to me they might be more likely to respond to customers, hence this outreach. If you're game, just write and ask if they're still using NuVal and forward the results to me at

For more background, read on, but if you want to cut to the chase, here are the e-mail addresses and website contact forms.

Alexander's Highland Market:
Cash Wise:
Festival Foods:
Food City:
Lund &Byerlys:
Nojaim Bros:  
Price Cutter:
Scolari's and Sak'n Save:

Why is this of interest?

Via a July 29, 2016 Huffington Post column by celebrity doctor David L. Katz:
Perhaps the single, proudest achievement to date of my 25-or-so-year career in public health was leading the development of the Overall Nutritional Quality Index algorithm, or the ONQI®. That effort, which was completed in 2006, involved an illustrious team of colleagues from throughout North America, who worked closely with my staff and me for two years.
He wasn't kidding about an illustrious team:

Back to Dr. Katz's column:
When we were done, we had a sophisticated formula that incorporated more than 30 nutrient properties of a food (including glycemic load), weighted each one for its health effects, and generated a number on a continuous scale, the higher that number, the higher the overall nutritional quality of the food. My original intent had been to give the system to the FDA. When that didn’t work out, because the system went beyond what the agency was willing to do at the time (and perhaps even now), a private company called NuVal, LLC was formed to license the program into supermarkets. The NuVal® system uses the ONQI to rate all foods on a scale from 1 (least nutritious) to 100 (most nutritious). The ONQI has been providing nutrition guidance to shoppers in nearly 2,000 supermarkets throughout the U.S...
Here's the deal.

Click on the links in his column and you'll discover that they lead to dead pages on the website of NuVal LLC (based in Quincy, MA).

Further, at this writing NuVal LLC's Facebook and Twitter accounts are MIA and the company's last blog post was on December 21, 2016.

There have been other problems at the company. According to a Buffalo News article last year about three supermarket chains that dropped NuVal -- Topps, Big Y, and Raley's -- the system has been criticized as "fatally flawed."


This week I sent e-mails to NuVal LLC director (and self-described lemonade maker) Anne Bernier and left her a voice message. (When I phoned the company, my call was routed to her voice mail by a recording. If there's a human being now working at the company, I haven't spoken to them.) I haven't gotten any response.

The graphic of the logos at the top of this item above is a screenshot from a recent (now missing) page listing NuVal LLC's client supermarkets. I've sent inquiries to the media relations department of a number of them and only one has affirmed (the lilac-highlighted Price Chopper group) that they're still using the NuVal system.

In an attempt to get the other companies to respond, I thought I'd try this crowdsource approach. (It could also be a fun journalism experience.)

Any/all help is appreciated. Questions? Just ask.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Anti-choking device inventor claimed the president of Turkey relies on his invention -- but the product's Turkish distributor says that's "completely lies and fictions...we condemn this ugly news"

Via my June 12 item:
Is an anti-choking plunger device called the Dechoker part of the medical protocol for the President of the United States, "both on land and aboard Air Force One"?

That's what a distributor of the product claims.
Via my June 21 item, I received this e-mail from Alan Carver, inventor of the Dechoker and CEO of Dechoker LLC in Concord, NC -- that's him in the above video:
From: Alan Carver <>
Date: Tue, 20 Jun 2017 20:37:40 -0400
Subject: Re: blogger inquiry
To: Peter M. Heimlich <>


We just spoke to the Director of Operations in Europe - our units are in the President's house and airplane for the President of Turkey, not the United States. We have asked Dechoker Spain to rectify the statements on their website.

Thank you for the notification.


Sent from my iPhone

Here's an e-mail I received last night from an executive at Ottoped, the Turkish distributor of the Dechoker, and related follow-ups, all unedited. (Sean Pittman is Dechoker LLC's Director of Strategic Development.):

It's unclear why Carver went on the warpath against me because I attempted to fact check his claim.

It's also unclear what he meant by "I am sure you will edit this comment like you did 2 weeks ago," but click here for our complete prior correspondence that culminated in him inviting me to participate in a medical seminar.

I politely declined.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Via NBC Bay Area, another chest thrusts choking rescue wrongly attributed to "the Heimlich" -- will they publish a correction? [UPDATED]

In a June 18, 2017 Sunday Times media watchdog column, John Burns at the paper's at the paper's Dublin bureau reported about my successful journalistic odyssey to obtain published corrections to numerous factual errors in obituaries about my dad, for example:
(The) headline (in the Irish Sunday Independent's obit) was wrong. “Henry Heimlich — surgeon who invented chest thrust,” it said.
(The) Heimlich manoeuvre is an abdominal thrust, performed below the rib cage. Big deal? “As it happens, there’s an ongoing debate in the medical community about whether chest thrusts are more effective and safer than the Heimlich,” Peter (Heimlich) says. “Also, my father went to considerable effort to discredit the use of chest thrusts when someone’s choking."
Speaking of chest thrusts, based on a dashcam video of a choking rescue in Rochester, NY that went viral, a couple days ago I posted an item that raised this question.

How many choking rescues in which the rescuer used chest thrusts have been wrongly attributed to "the Heimlich"?

Coincidentally, via an NBC Bay Area story that aired the same day, 12-year-old Rylie Palfalvi of Pleasanton, CA, described how she successfully performed chest thrusts on her bushy-haired younger brother Max who was choking on popcorn.

But newsman Garvin Thomas incorrectly reported that Max's intrepid sis "did the Heimlich."

I certainly don't expect most people, including general assignment reporters [see update below], to be aware of the distinction, but as I told the Sunday Times, why not get it right?

Plus why not give Ms. Palfalvia credit for perhaps being on the cutting edge of lifesaving first aid?

With that in mind, I'll send a request for a published correction to NBC Bay Area and will report the results here. [Page down for the results.]

For more information on the topic of chest thrusts vs. "the Heimlich," click here.

Finally, re: my dad's obit in the Irish Sunday Independent -- aka The Sindo -- here's the headline before my corrections request...

...and here's the current version:

UPDATE (6/24/17):

A few days ago I e-mailed my item and supporting information to Garvin Thomas at NBC Bay Area which resulted in a friendly, productive correspondence and the addition of this paragraph at the beginning of his story:


Also, he set me straight about this: 
And since we're having fun with accuracy, I'm not a general assignment reporter. I produce a feature segment (Bay Area Proud) that highlights stories of kindness, generosity, and success. And, yes, it's as great a job as it sounds.
Thank you, Garvin -- and regret the error!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Clarification from Dechoker inventor -- his anti-choking device is NOT being used for U.S. president, but for Turkish president Erdoğan [UPDATED]

UPDATED JULY 12, 2017: Anti-choking device inventor claimed the president of Turkey relies on his invention -- but the product's Turkish distributor says that's "completely lies and fictions...we condemn this ugly news"

If Turkey's brutal president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan chokes on this chicken leg, he'll be treated with the Dechoker, according to the device's inventor

Last week I reported If the U.S. President has a choking emergency, will he be treated with this anti-choking plunger? about this page I found on the website of Dechoker Spain, based in Madrid.

According to Google Translate, here's the headline in English: The Secret Service of the United States protects The President with Dechoker both on land and aboard Air Force One. The identical text is on the photo of President Barack Obama next to Air Force One. On the top right corner is the badge logo of the U.S. Secret Service.

When it comes to accurate reporting, journalists would do well to heed this advice from President Ronald Reagan: Trust, but verify.

And who better to verify than Alan Carver, inventor of the device and CEO of Dechoker LLC in Concord, NC, near Charlotte?

In response to my inquiry, here's what I received from him yesterday. 
From: Alan Carver <>
Date: Tue, 20 Jun 2017 20:37:40 -0400
Subject: Re: blogger inquiry
To: Peter M. Heimlich <>


We just spoke to the Director of Operations in Europe - our units are in the President's house and airplane for the President of Turkey, not the United States. We have asked Dechoker Spain to rectify the statements on their website.

Thank you for the notification.


Sent from my iPhone
If any members of the security force of Turkey's brutal president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are reading this, if you're not busy instigating bloody brawls with peaceful protesters, here's a training video featuring Mr. Carver.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Choking first aid: Are New Zealand, Australia, and a guy in Rochester, NY, ahead of the curve?

As Sidebar readers know, medical authorities in New Zealand and Australia don't recommend the Heimlich maneuver (aka abdominal thrusts) for responding to a choking emergency.

Per Aviva Ziegler's 2009 documentary, in the Land Down Under my dad's namesake treatment is considered unproven and potentially harmful.

That opinion was echoed in the American Heart Association's 2005 guidelines which state, "Life-threatening complications have been associated with the use of abdominal thrusts."

Instead Kiwi and Oz first aid experts recommend back blows and chest thrusts.

The latter treatment was first proposed in a 1976 study by my friend Dr. Chuck Guildner of Everett, Washington. Click here for more about that and related information.

Yesterday, Radio Live New Zealand aired Do you know what to do when a child is choking? which included this clip of first aid instructor Billy Doyle explaining the back blows followed by chest thrusts protocol. To my knowledge it's the first time the chest thrusts treatment has been described in a video.

As it happens, "the Heimlich" has been credited with saving choking victims when, in fact, the rescuer performed -- yep -- back blows and chest thrusts.

For example, in January a dashcam video of a dramatic choking rescue in Rochester, NY, was picked up by numerous news outlets.

Via the original YouTube video, here's the description:


Here's the video:

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Paper Trail: How a UK government-initiated medical review choked Yorkshire group's attempt to install anti-choking devices in local schools

A couple weeks ago I reported an item entitled UK crowdfunding effort to install anti-choking devices in Yorkshire schools derailed by government-initiated medical review.

Since then, via FOIA requests I obtained records documenting what triggered the review, who conducted it, and how it was implemented.

The records also include legal threats and a disclosure that the review was supposed to be kept under wraps.

See below for a pdf file I organized and posted to my Scribd account. Click here to download the file.

Briefly, as reported by the Hull Daily Mail, just days after the tragic choking death of a five-year-old boy eating lunch at school the first week of February, Edd Wheldon -- a member of a charitable group called the Hull Wyke Round Table -- e-mailed local primary schools offering donations of an anti-choking suction device called the LifeVac along with training sessions to be conducted by LifeVac EU, based in Devon.

Wheldon's e-mail triggered a February 17 e-mail from a Headteacher at one of the schools (who incorrectly called the LifeVac a "Medi Vac"):

Monday, June 12, 2017

If the U.S. President has a choking emergency, will he be treated with this anti-choking plunger? [UPDATED]


JUNE 21, 2017: Clarification from Dechoker inventor -- his anti-choking device is NOT being used for U.S. president, but for Turkish president Erdoğan

JULY 12, 2017: Anti-choking device inventor claimed the president of Turkey relies on his invention -- but the product's Turkish distributor says that's "completely lies and fictions...we condemn this ugly news"


Is an anti-choking plunger device called the Dechoker part of the medical protocol for the President of the United States, "both on land and aboard Air Force One"?

That's what a distributor of the product claims.

Here's a TV news story about the Dechoker that aired a couple years ago on a Louisville, KY, station -- I'm quoted and my comments are at the 2:00 time stamp:

Via the website of the Dechoker company, based in Concord, North Carolina, northeast of Charlotte:

Via Dechoker Spain's website [6/14/17 UPDATE: Since this item was published two days ago, the following graphic and link appear to have been removed from the web page]:

The accompanying link leads to this one-page pdf:

I ran the main text through Google Translate and got the following results -- for clarity I've made some very minor grammatical changes; the bold text is from the original version:

The Secret Service of the United States protects The President with Dechoker both on land and aboard Air Force One

The Secret Service is an elite body, part of the Treasury Department, formed in 1865 and which for 100 years has as its main mission to protect the President, his family and dignitaries visiting the United States.

Its motto is "Prepare for the worst, hope for the best."

They rely on Dechoker to protect the President both on land and aboard the Air Force One, the White House jet. The presidential fleet is the center of government of the United States of America while the president is inside the aircraft in any part of the world. It can carry 700 passengers and carry food to 2,000 people.

All types of defense and security measures are used to guarantee the life of the head of state. Representing the presidential power and prestige of the United States, there are medical facilities on board Air Force One, including an operating table, emergency medical supplies including Dechoker as a first aid device in case of suffocation by choking, and a well stocked pharmacy.
Here's a close-up from the page:

I ran the above text through Google Translate -- here's what came back:
The Secret Service of the United States protects the President with Dechoker both on land and aboard Air Force One.
Here's another close-up from the page:

Today I asked the Secret Service and the White House for more information. 

I also asked if private companies may use the Secret Service logo on promotional materials and if photos of the President and Air Force One may be used for hyping products.

Finally, if the claims are on Dechoker's U.S. website, I couldn't find them.

Via the file properties of the pdf, this woman appears to be the author of the document, so presumably she can provide more information.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Business Insider story deals death blow to my dad's hokum about back blows -- and opens the door to further expose "the Koop maneuver"

September 1979 editorial published by trade magazine Emergency Medical Services

A news video published yesterday by Business Insider dealt another blow to my father's fraudulent 40-year campaign which he called, "back blows are death blows."

Here's a clip I made from the story by reporters Gene Kim and Jessica Orwig. (Click the link to watch the entire segment. I tried to post it here, but I couldn't get the embed code to work.)

What's the right way to save a choking victim's life? It turns out, the Heimlich maneuver is not the only approach – and it may not even be the best one.

Repeated blows to the back could be equally useful in a dangerous situation. You might be thinking that back blows will only lodge the food deeper into a person's trachea. But this is a myth perpetuated by Dr. Henry Heimlich.

According to reports from Dr. Heimlich's youngest son, Peter Heimlich, the founder of the Heimlich maneuver spent years trying to discredit back blows, publicly denouncing them as "death blows."
The story also tagged this 1982 research study by three Yale physicians which my father clandestinely funded. My wife Karen and I uncovered that scam which we helped bring to public attention via a first-rate 2006 New Haven Register expose by veteran medical journalist Abram Katz.

(Dr. Heimlich) even funded a study in the '80s that showed back blows could do more harm to a choking victim than good. But in truth, there is no valid scientific evidence to prove that back blows are any better, or worse, than the Heimlich maneuver.
Even after being busted for that mess, dad kept slinging his anti-back blows hokum, but the only reporter still willing to provide him with a platform was Cliff Radel at the Cincinnati Enquirer.

The Business Insider story also opens the door for more reporting about "the Koop maneuver."

Via a press release describing an influential 1985 Public Health Statement:
Surgeon General C. Everett Koop today endorsed the Heimlich manuever [sic], not as the preferred, but as the only method that should be used for the treatment of choking from foreign body airway obstruction.

Dr. Koop also urged the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association to teach only the Heimlich Manuever [sic] in their first aid classes. Dr. Koop urged both organizations to withdraw from circulation manuals, posters and other materials that recommend treating choking victims with back slaps and blows to the chest.

..."Millions of Americans have been taught to treat persons who are choking with back blows, chest thrusts and abdominal thrusts," Dr. Koop said. "Now, they must be advised...and I ask for the participation of the Red Cross, the American Heart Association and public health authorities everywhere...that these methods are hazardous, even lethal."

A back slap, the surgeon general said, can drive a foreign object even deeper into the throat.
Click here for Koop's two-part published statement which, like the press release, repeatedly misspells the word maneuver.

Per the Business Insider, there has never been any evidence that back blows are ineffective or dangerous.

Same goes for chest thrusts. In fact two studies concluded that they were more effective than "the Heimlich."

So why did Koop use his bully pulpit to circulate false information?
Via Maneuvering Over Heimlich, a 2007 Creators Syndicate column by the redoubtable Lenore Skenazy:
Back blows are "death blows," Dr. Heimlich declared long and loud as he lobbied for his maneuver's acceptance 30 years ago. In 1985, Surgeon General C. Everett Koop endorsed this view, dubbing backslaps "hazardous." After that, only the Heimlich Maneuver was considered kosher.

What most people don't realize, Dr. Heimlich's son, Peter Heimlich, said, is that "Koop was an old friend of my father's, and he did it as a buddy favor."
More about Dr. Koop's misleading statement via Heimlich Maneuver Endorsed by Cristine Russell, Washington Post, October 2, 1985.

Monday, May 29, 2017

UK crowdfunding effort to install anti-choking devices in Yorkshire schools derailed by government-initiated medical review [UPDATED]

JUNE 17, 2017 UPDATE: Paper Trail: How a UK government-initiated medical review choked Yorkshire group's attempt to install anti-choking devices in local schools


Three months after hosting a JustGiving crowdfunding campaign to purchase and donate an anti-choking device to local schools, the Hull Wyke Round Table (HWRT) -- a charitable organization in Yorkshire, England -- has sent donors a refund offer letter.

The failed project raised couple of thousand pounds -- including two quid I kicked in.

The project was cancelled after a comprehensive medical review by a local government's public health department in partnership with area hospitals.

But the HWRT's refund letter doesn't mention that -- and it's unclear why not.

The story begins with a February 4 Hull Daily Mail news report about a tragic death: 
A five-year-old boy has died after choking on his food during a school lunch break [yesterday] at Anlaby Primary School.
Via a February 10 follow up story in the same paper:
Hull Wyke Round Table (HWRT) has raised enough money to fit primary schools in Hull and East Riding with life saving anti-choking devices.
The charitable organisation has raised enough money to install LifeVac units in 17 primary schools in west Hull and East Riding. They are now looking to raise more money to install more devices in more schools.
In other words, in less than a week the HWRT apparently came across the LifeVac device, evaluated its efficacy and safety, and raised an unreported amount of money from an unreported source to install it in 17 schools.

If the Hull reporter looked into any of those details, they're not in the article.

In any event, let's call that Round One of the fundraising by the HWRT, an organization which, according to its website, apparently has no fixed address, phone number, or e-mail address. 

The article in the Hull newspaper then reports what I'll call Round Two of the fundraising project and instructs readers how to contribute:
They are now looking to raise more money to install more devices in more schools.

...HWRT member Edd Wheldon said: "I came across this device and we thought we would like to offer to install them in primary schools in our area.

"We just thought it might be something which could help prevent tragedies from happening."

...Wheldon said the supplier had also offered to visit each school interested in having it installed to train staff members. In a letter to the schools' headteachers, Mr Wheldon asked them to confirm whether they would like a unit by February 17.

You can donate to the project online here.
The link in the last sentence leads to the HWRT's fundraising page hosted by the popular crowdfunding platform

Here are the first donations, indicating that the campaign began on February 9, just five days after Hull newspaper reported the choking tragedy.

Based on responses to FOIA requests, on February 9 Edd Weldon circulated the following e-mail to local schools in which he offered a "Wall Mounted (LifeVac) kit to be mounted in your dining area. The supplier has also agreed to come and give you a training session of the product at a central location hosted by Hull Wyke Round Table."

Interested parties were instructed to contact LifeVac representative Eric Banagan "if you have any technical questions."

Click here to download a copy of Wheldon's e-mail to the schools which included three pdfs consisting of about 50 pages of materials that appear to have been provided by LifeVac, including a June 14, 2016 North Devon News article about a nurse who claims she used the device to save the life of a choking woman at a nursing home in Llanybydder, Wales.

Wheldon's letter claimed, "This device is already in 100 schools in the UK and has saved three lives recently."

The same claims were in HWRT's JustGiving fund raising solicitation.

Per my March 7, 2017 item, when I asked Wheldon for details about the three saved lives and a list of the 100 schools, I didn't receive a reply.

Back to the crowdfunding campaign which ended February 28 -- here's the result:

Fast forward two months to this May 15 update on the crowdfunding page informing donors that the project had collapsed:

The link (my yellow highlighting) leads to this unsigned letter -- click here to download a copy -- with no return address or phone number, but provides this e-mail address:

Here's what the HWRT letter claims went wrong:

Presumably the HWRT failed to ask the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for that information before initiating the fundraising project.

And the HWRT doesn't apologize to donors or the schools for failing to perform such minimal due diligence.

It's also unclear why the HWRT finds the MHRA's position to be "disappointing." That is, why would they want to install an unapproved medical device in local schools?

But the letter inexplicably fails to tell donors the real reason the project was derailed.

In response to HWRT's fundraising, the local government East Riding of Yorkshire Council initiated an expert medical review, the results of which were circulated to area schools in the following March newsletter.

Via the newsletter -- click here to download a copy.
(Guidance) has been obtained through the Councils Public Health team, in partnership with Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals (HEY), who have comprehensively reviewed the use of such devices particularly in a paediatric context.

It is recommended at this time that the device is not used until further evidence on suitability for paediatric use is published.

According to the e-mails below, Wheldon was aware of the Council's findings on March 16, two months before the May 15 refund letter. What took his organization so long to offer refunds to me and other donors?

Why didn't the HWRT's refund letter inform donors about the medical review (which, incidentally, is apparently not available via the Council's website)?

What happened to the money the HWRT raised in Round One of the fundraising?

When and how did Edd Wheldon "(come) across the device" as he told the Hull Daily Mail?

And what due diligence did his organization conduct before initiating a project that wasted the time of the schools, local government, and donors, and which presumably resulted in taxpayers paying for the medical review?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

UK tabloid claims actor Halle Berry's life was saved by "the Heimlich" -- but she debunked that years ago; here's what happened when I requested a published correction

Halle Berry (source)

In his 2014 memoir, my dad claimed that actor Halle Berry was saved from choking by "the Heimlich."

But via an award-winning Hollywood Reporter article, she denied the claim.

December obituaries for my father in the New York Times and BuzzFeed included the false "Halle was Heimlich-ed" claim, but, in response to my requests, both news outlets published thorough corrections.

At the same time, the UK's Daily Express tabloid published the bogus claim, but the paper ignored my corrections requests.

So I filed a complaint with UK's Independent Press Standards Organization.


This seemed so straightforward, I assumed it would be a slam dunk.

Plus I was motivated because it would add to my tally of successful, possibly record-making corrections requests as reported in January by Erik Wemple at the Washington Post.

But in a determination that reads like something out of Lewis Carroll, yesterday IPSO wrote me that the factual error published by the Express wasn't "significantly misleading."


It was significantly misleading enough to Ms. Berry.

She told the Hollywood Reporter it was baloney.

In response to the determination, a representative from the Express's legal office thanked IPSO and left the lie uncorrected.

In other words, the paper has made clear that they are intentionally providing false information to readers.

Some skeptics may claim that's not unusual, but how often do you get an empirically provable example like this?

Further, by failing to correct the error, the Express has tacitly admitted that its editorial standards are below the New York Times and BuzzFeed.

Perhaps no surprise there, but how often do you get a bulletproof example?

As for IPSO, based on their determination, apparently they hold their member organizations to a lower editorial standard than the New York Times and BuzzFeed.

Those are just some of the points I raised in my appeal today to IPSO which includes links and screenshots documenting my trip down this UK journalism rabbit hole. Click here to download a copy.

This item has revised.

Monday, May 8, 2017

My father's being inducted into the New Rochelle, NY, "Walk of Fame" -- today I wrote to the city about his 50-year history of fraud [UPDATED]

UPDATE: Son of famed New Rochelle doctor asks for Walk of Fame reconsideration by Lisa Reyes, Local12 TV News (Westchester, NY), May 8, 2017:
The son of a New Rochelle doctor credited with creating the Heimlich maneuver says inducting his father into the New Rochelle Walk of Fame would be a mistake.

Dr. Henry Heimlich, part of the New Rochelle High School class of 1937, is world-famous for developing the anti-choking method that bears his name. This year, the city is honoring him by inducting him into its Walk of Fame.

Dr. Heimlich's son, Peter, sent a letter to the city urging officials to reconsider the designation.

"My father was involved most of his career promoting a bunch of crackpot medical ideas that resulted in the significant loss of life," he says.
Click here to direct download a copy of my letter.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Part IV of "Drowning in Funworld" by Pamela Mills-Senn, final segment of the dramatic backstory of the landmark article that was our Rosetta Stone

Pamela Mills-Senn

Here's the fourth and final segment of Drowning in Funworld by Long Beach, CA, journalist Pamela Mills-Senn.

It's the dramatic backstory behind her landmark March 30, 2000 article that became the road map for much of the research by my wife Karen and me, work that resulted in hundreds of mainstream print and broadcast media reports.

Drowning in Funworld was first published 11 years ago this week by the now-defunct Cincinnati Beacon blog. It's my privilege to make it available again -- PMH

P.S. Big thanks to the United States Lifesaving Association and the organization's president, Chris Brewster, for posting Pamela's article on their website which is where Karen and I found it in 2002.


Part IV: It's a Fun World After All

And so the writing began. The editor and I were concerned that - since it appeared Ellis & Associates had made a questionable decision in changing their drowning rescue protocol to the Heimlich maneuver - the article would be buried if we focused too much attention on them. We decided instead to concentrate on Heimlich and his research and hoped that interested parties (the waterparks, public pools, lakes, and amusement parks that had hired Ellis to provide lifeguard training) would put two and two together and ask some hard questions of the company. This is why you'll notice, if you look at the Funworld article, there is just one section related to Ellis, although they are mentioned towards the end of the piece as well.

In total, I wrote three drafts. The first was sent to the editor so he could weed down the word count, which approached 10,000 words. The second, based on his revisions, was then sent out to everyone that was interviewed or provided information (with the exception of Dr. Henry Heimlich). No one received the full article, just sections with their input except in those cases where I also asked sources to review my comments on research methodology, general drowning information, etc. Ellis received only his section and comments.

The third draft incorporated their comments, revisions and corrections and was sent to the editor. In turn, he sent the entire article out to Heimlich to give him a last chance to comment.

During my research, I would ask Heimlich to explain the discrepancies I was encountering.

For example, I asked him why he incorrectly extrapolated Dr. Linda Quan's data, why he didn't tell people this was a regional study? He responded that he did make people aware of its regional nature. But this was only occasionally true. He very often failed to mention the regional nature of this study and that consequently, data from this study was restricted in its applications. Unless you were educated in statistics, you would not appreciate the study's limits.

And when I asked him why he falsely stated that the lifeguards in Quan's study had been trained in CPR, he accused Quan of lying. He wrote:
Mouth-to-mouth was adopted for drowning in 1961 and was spread by the (American Red Cross) to lifeguards and the public very quickly. I find it hard to believe that 23 years later [Quan’s study covered 10 years beginning in 1974] they were not yet teaching CPR to lifeguards in Seattle. I’d like to see written proof from Quan. There is certainly no published statement in any of Quan's writing indicating that she improved outcomes by adding CPR to the lifeguard’s protocol for the first time [remember that I mentioned a later study conducted by Quan demonstrated this very thing]. How could she leave that out if it were possibly true? It sounds like something she thought of belatedly, after I quoted her findings of 42% mortality.
Interestingly - referring to Heimlich’s contention that by 1974 the majority of lifeguards were well aware of and well-trained in CPR - as I was researching the Funworld article I attended an industry trade show in Atlanta, which gave me the opportunity to sit in on an Ellis presentation about their aquatic services. At this presentation, they showed a video of a kid that had drowned in a public pool (the video was shot by a bystander). The trade show was in early 2000, I believe and the video was recent. The guards at that pool pulled the kid out and then did essentially nothing. They acted completely baffled, something that would never happen to Ellis-trained guards - or so the message was.

The presenter said these guards had received CPR training, although he wouldn’t say from whom. The point is that while Heimlich appears disbelieving that any guard could be untrained (or poorly-trained) in CPR, decades later, Ellis was willing to state this was the case.

This is how it went with Heimlich. He would start out by appearing to answer questions about his research, etc. but then in a weird sort of circular approach, sidestep the question either by referencing the very studies I was asking him about, or refer me back to his own chapters, writings and correspondence. It smacked of a sort of "because I say so," logic.

He would also refer to Ellis' adoption of his maneuver as evidence of its merit, not addressing the fact that this adoption was, in fact, based on his questionable science and misused data.

Throughout, he accused researchers of outright fraud, or of not understanding their own data. He also believed that the Institute of Medicine misinterpreted their findings and had made deliberate omissions around his work. At times, Heimlich almost sounded like a conspiracy theorist.

The third and final copy, the one sent to Heimlich after all the others had reviewed it, stood unchanged, in spite of his rebuttals. It was time to show the report in its entirety to Ellis.

I believe the editor showed it to Ellis and others who were attending a meeting of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions safety committee. [Funworld is published by IAAPA.] I can't recall whether this committee was focused entirely on waterpark safety or also concerned itself with amusement parks.

The report's impact was immediate. The committee was upset and concerned that the news media, which routinely reads the trade publications of major industries, would get wind of the report. Although the article was to have run in the magazine, and later when it grew longer, to be included with the magazine as a supplemental report, ultimately it was kept out of the publication altogether. Instead, a month or so later, it was mailed out to IAAPA members as a "Special Report," effectively keeping it out of the public eye — although whether this, or costs, was the motivating factor, only the publisher knows. [Editor's note: The privately-distributed Funworld article was dated March 30, 2000. A few months later, the Los Angeles Times reported the story.]

One drowning authority I relied heavily on during my research was Jerome Modell M.D., at the time a professor in the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Florida's College of Medicine. As I said in the Funworld article, Modell's work in drowning is internationally known and referenced. As of that writing, he had also acted as an expert witness in drowning litigation on approximately 150 occasions.

When Modell heard that the article was not going to be published in the magazine, he fired off a letter to John Graff, the president and CEO of IAAPA. In it he said:
For you now to deny the printing of this material indicates to me that…the report did not result in a manuscript that fit your personal prejudices. I can tell you that as a scientist, on many occasions, experiments that I and my colleagues have performed have produced results that did not meet our pretesting biases, but in the end, resulted in an even more significant contribution that had our predetermined biases been true.

For the above reasons, I believe that your censorship of this article was inappropriate; some have even expressed the opinion to me that external pressure, or perhaps a vested interest in a different outcome, may have influenced your judgment in this matter. I personally chose not to believe this, but I urge you, in the interest of safety for all of us who are interested in water sports, to publish this article in Funworld magazine at the earliest possible date.
Graff was unmoved.

Within days of receiving the article, Ellis quietly changed their protocol back to CPR, claiming they had decided to do so partly because of the Institute of Medicine's findings and decision not to endorse the maneuver for drowning or revisit the issue. (The first IOM committee reviewed the issue in 1991 and the second IOM committed reviewed this again in 1994. This was not a recent decision and Ellis should have been well aware of it).

Another reason Ellis gave was their submersion data. They started collecting data on the maneuver in 1995, when they changed their protocol. They also had older data, going back to 1985 when Ellis-trained guards were still responding with CPR. They had been touting their data as demonstrating the maneuver was superior to CPR, but the problem was, as Ellis representative Larry Newell admitted, the two sets of data were not comparable, so no meaningful comparison between the two protocols was possible. In fact, it was impossible.

But they had to have known this before receiving the article.

Funworld's editor was fired, forced to resign, however you want to spin it, because of this article and because he backed it. All along, I had been thinking only of how I might be impacted. I had no idea the heat he was taking and had been taking for months. And yet, when he had the chance to kill the article, he didn't take it. I can’t tell you how much I admired him and still do.

In Part Three I mentioned the Save A Life Foundation and that they were the only organization outside of Ellis to endorse and teach the maneuver for drowning. At the time, Heimlich sat on that organization's medical advisory board, as did CPR developer Dr. Peter Safar. The medical director then was Stanley Zydlo, M.D.

He told me during an interview, that they initially advised folks to use CPR, but decided to switch to the maneuver based on the 42% fatality rate from Quan's study (and supplied to him by Heimlich) and also on CPR’s "median mortality rate of 40%" another figure supplied by Heimlich. Zydlo contrasted this to Ellis' stated mortality rate, attributed to the maneuver protocol, of just 3% and decided this was proof enough the maneuver worked far better than CPR.

But, said those whom I interviewed for this article, Ellis' low mortality rate is more likely the result of the very short submersion times (remember, Ellis says their average submersion time is 29 seconds) rather than the maneuver.

As far as I know, although I haven’t investigated, the Save A Life Foundation is still recommending the maneuver as a first response to drowning/near-drowning, in spite of receiving a copy of the article and in spite of Ellis’ reversal. [Editor's note: In the wake of dozens of media exposes alleging fraud, the Save A Life Foundation went out of business in 2009 and the organization's founder/president Carol J. Spizzirri is a defendant in a wide-ranging federal civil rights lawsuit brought by a former SALF employee.]

After fulfilling a contract for another article, established when the editor was still in place, I never wrote for Funworld again. The editor found another job, and we kept in touch. We felt like we were the only ones in the world, except for a handful of others, who knew what we knew and we had weathered it together. But the knowledge of what people are willing to do to advance their agendas remains with you and changes you, and it changed me.

I remember the mixed feelings I had when Ellis reversed their decision. On the one hand, it confirmed that my research had uncovered real problems. Otherwise, I believe Jeff Ellis would have stood his ground and presented evidence favorable to his decision. He had every opportunity to do that.

But the quick reversal made it appear, in my mind anyway, that these problems were known all along, and this was troubling. Because it seemed to me that what had really taken place in the waterparks were the very human studies experiments that the IOM had said should not be approved. And it seemed like admission prices were high enough without tossing this into the mix.

We'd like to think we can count on the gatekeepers, like Ellis, to protect us from people like Dr. Heimlich, that would use us to their own purposes. I guess what I learned from this experience is that the gatekeepers need watching too.

Postscript: Several years after the publishing of the article, reports of Dr. Heimlich's "malariotherapy" experiments began appearing in the Los Angeles Times and other news outlets. Around that time, I was contacted by Peter Heimlich, Dr. Heimlich's youngest son. Peter and his wife Karen have worked tirelessly to expose problems surrounding Dr. Heimlich's research and claims.

Suddenly, the editor and I were not so alone.