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Quick Chart
Introduction
  • Drowning is the process of primary respiratory impairment resulting from immersion / submersion in a liquid medium.
Clinical Presentation
  • Immersion of the face in water (or other liquid)
  • Breath-holding
  • Vigorous breathing efforts can lead to water being drawn into the airway causing laryngeal spasm
  • Swallowing of air and water can lead to vomiting or regurgitation
  • Laryngeal spasm relaxes after loss of consciousness and water and vomit may be drawn into the lungs
Exclusion Criteria
Exclusion Criteria
Risk Assessment
  • Vomiting and regurgitation often occur following immersion
  • Consciousness is not synonymous with recovery, since delayed death from hypoxia can occur
  • Gastric distension. Do not attempt to empty the stomach by external pressure
  • Potential spinal injury
  • Soiled airway
  • Hypothermia
Management
Primary Care
Intermediate Care (EMT / Level 2)
  • Apply cardiac monitor if trained and authorised
  • Monitor patient persistently, recording full observations every 10 minutes (or 5 minutes if time critical)
  • Transport Priority 1 if patient time critical, pre-notifying receiving facility
Advanced Care (AP)
  • Apply cardiac monitoring
  • Establish vascular access
  • Consider fluid therapy to correct hypovolemia, be mindful to avoid excessive volumes
  • Monitor patient persistently, recording full observations every 10 minutes (or 5 minutes if time critical)
  • Transport Priority 1 if patient time critical, pre-notifying receiving facility
Critical & Extended Care (CCP, PSO)
  • As per Advanced Care (AP) guidelines
Additional Information
  • N / A

References
References
Key Terms & Links
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Directorate
Clinical Services

Responsible Manager
Head of Clinical Services

Published Date

Review Date

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