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December 18, 1987

The Heimlich Maneuver and Drowning

Author Affiliations

University of Cincinnati

University of Cincinnati

JAMA. 1987;258(23):3388-3389. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03400230048026

To the Editor.—  The anecdotal article by Dr Orlowski1 on the Heimlich maneuver for drowning omits references and case details. The author says that the Heimlich maneuver caused the patient to vomit and contributed to his poor outcome. Dr Orlowski does not cite a 1981 case report2 in which the Heimlich maneuver opened a 2-year-old child's intubated airway that was blocked by inhaled water; the child did not vomit. This article was referenced in the June 1986 "Standards and Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiac Care"3 and was discussed in an article by Dr Orlowski in 1982.4 Gordon and Terranova5 reported a similar case of a 2-year-old boy who vomited after cardiopulmonary resuscitation and arrived at the emergency department with a blocked airway, apnea, and no pulse. A Heimlich maneuver relieved the blocked airway and the child survived.Before the Heimlich maneuver was described,