Drowning is defined as the process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion or immersion in liquid.
Drowning is a leading cause of injury and death among young people.
It has been estimated that 80% to 90% of all drownings are preventable.
Hypoxaemia is the primary cause of morbidity and mortality, and its reversal must remain the focus of treatment.
The 'Drowning Chain of Survival' refers to a series of interventions that, when put into action by laypersons or professionals, may reduce morbidity and mortality associated with drowning.
Drowning is the process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion or immersion in liquid. This process is a continuum beginning with respiratory impairment as the victim's airway goes below the surface of the liquid (submersion) or when water splashes over the face (immersion). If the victim is rescued at any time, the process of drowning is interrupted, resulting in a non-fatal drowning. Any submersion or immersion incident without evidence of respiratory impairment (aspiration) should be considered a water rescue rather than a drowning. Terms such as 'near-drowning', 'dry or wet drowning', 'active and passive drowning', 'secondary', and 'delayed onset of respiratory distress' should not be used.
History and exam
David Szpilman, MD
Medical Director - Brazilian Lifesaving Society - Sobrasa
Lieutenant Colonel MD, retired - Fire Department of Rio de Janeiro
Civil Defense Rio de Janeiro City - Education adviser Defesa Civil Municipal do Rio de Janeiro
Co-founder - International Drowning Researcher's Alliance - IDRA
Rio de Janeiro
DS is an author of several references cited in this topic.
Justin Sempsrott, MD, FAAEM
Executive Director: Lifeguards Without Borders
Medical Director: International Surf Lifesaving Association
Medical Director: Starfish Aquatics Institute
Medical Director: Innovative Attraction Management Starguard Elite
Board of Directors: Safer 3 Water Safety Foundation
Staff: Global Outreach Doctors
JS has given expert testimony in court cases involving drowning.
Andrew Schmidt, DO, MPH
Department of Emergency Medicine
University of Florida College of Medicine - Jacksonville
Jacksonville Beach Ocean Rescue
Deputy Medical Director
AS declares that he has no competing interests.
Dr David Szpilman, Dr Justin Sempsrott, and Dr Andrew Schmidt would like to gratefully acknowledge Dr Bhakti K. Patel and Dr D. Kyle Hogarth, previous contributors to this topic. BKP and DKL declare that they have no competing interests.
Ajeet G. Vinayak, MD
Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine
Department of Medicine
Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
AGV declares that he has no competing interests.
Richard Franklin, PhD
James Cook University
RF declares that he has no competing interests.
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