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:


source

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!

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:

source

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"):

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.