Continuing Medical Education

Update on drowning

Jay Matthew, Cleeve Robertson, Ross Hofmeyr


Drowning is defined as the process of experiencing respiratory impairment from either submersion or immersion in liquid. Drowning morbidity and mortality are an under-recognised public health burden in southern Africa. Continuous concerted efforts are underway to improve awareness among recreational water users, but the prevention and management of drowning remain difficult to achieve owing to poor reporting and limited resources. Priorities for both prehospital and emergency department management of drowning victims include ensuring airway patency, adequate ventilation, supplemental oxygenation and rewarming for a pulsatile patient, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation with rewarming for a pulseless patient.

Authors' affiliations

Jay Matthew, Department of Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences,University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban; Lifesaving South Africa, Durban, South Africa

Cleeve Robertson, National Sea Rescue Institute, Cape Town, South Africa

Ross Hofmeyr, Department of Anaesthesia and Perioperative Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town; WildMedix, Cape Town, South Africa

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Drowning; Prevention; Management

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2017;107(7):562-565. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2017.v107i7.12609

Article History

Date submitted: 2017-06-30
Date published: 2017-06-30

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