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Recommendations Developed for Management of Drowning

Recommendations presented for initial resuscitation, post-resuscitation management, special situations

FRIDAY, May 13, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Recommendations have been developed for prevention and acute management of drowning. The Wilderness Medical Society published the new practice guidelines online April 6 in Wilderness & Environmental Medicine.

Andrew C. Schmidt, D.O., M.P.H., from the University of Florida College of Medicine-Jacksonville, and colleagues reviewed available evidence for prevention and acute management of drowning in out-of-hospital and emergency care settings.

The researchers grouped recommendations by categories: initial resuscitation, post-resuscitation management, disposition in the wilderness, disposition in the emergency room, prevention, and special situations. The panel provided specific guidelines for different circumstances and scenarios in each category. Key recommendations include that only those with formal water rescue training should attempt in-water rescues, while those without formal training should avoid entering the water and offer help based on the mantra “Reach, Throw, Row, Don’t Go.” Hypothermia should be treated aggressively with active and passive measures; in addition, the drowning process should be interrupted as quickly as possible. In the initial resuscitation of a drowning patient, establishing an airway and providing oxygen should be the priorities. Oxygen should be delivered at the highest concentration available, based on resources available and patient tolerance.

“As with other injuries encountered in the wilderness environment, the best treatment for drowning is prevention,” Schmidt said in a statement. “When prevention fails, or circumstance leads to the drowning process, then the most important aspect of treatment is to reverse cerebral hypoxia by providing oxygen to the brain by whatever means available.”

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