Episode 31: Pediatric Drowning – Prevention and Management

Emergency Medicine, Uncategorized

In this episode, host Jason Woods speaks with Emma Harding and Laura Bricklin about drowning in children. The discussion covers prevention (specifically parental and patient education) and management, as well as the current terminology and existing data.

This episode is produced in conjunction with Drs. Emma Harding and Laura Bricklin as part of their worth on an AAP CATCH grant.  

The following show notes were authored by Drs. Bricklin and Harding and provide a fantastic review.

Take-Home Points

  1. Drowning is the #1 cause of preventable death in children age 1-4
  2. You can’t drown-proof a child – multiple layers of protection help prevent drowning
  3. Providers are a major source of water-safety education for most families

Major Data Points

Drowning claimed the lives of nearly 1,000 children (under 20 years old) in 2017, and an estimated 8,700 children visited a hospital emergency department for a drowning.

Two age groups have the highest risk of drowning – toddlers, and teens. Teens of color are at especially high risk. 

The highest rate of drowning is among children under age 4, with children 12 to 36 months of age being at the highest risk. 

  • Most infants drown in bathtubs and buckets. 
  • Most preschool-aged children drown in swimming pools. 
  • CPSC found that 69% of children under 5 who drowned were not expected to be at or near a pool when the drowned. 

Teens ages 15-19 years have the second-highest fatal drowning rate. Every year, about 370 children ages 10-19 drown.

  • Among teens, half of all drownings occur in natural water settings like lakes, rivers or oceans. 
  • Among teens, drowning is due to a variety of factors, but alcohol is often involved. 

Layers of Protection

  • All children and adults should learn to swim. If swim lessons are suspended in your area due to coronavirus, it is important to add other layers of protection until your child can access lessons.
  • Close, constant, attentive supervision around water is important. Assign an adult ‘water watcher,’ who should not be distracted by work, socializing, or chores.
  • Around the house, empty all buckets, bathtubs, and wading pools immediately after use. If you have young children, keep the bathroom door closed, and use toilet locks to prevent access.
  • Pools should be surrounded by a four-sided fence, with a self-closing and self-latching gate. Research shows pool fencing can reduce drowning risk by 50%. Additional barriers can include door locks, window locks, pool covers, and pool alarms.
  • Adults and older children should learn CPR. 
  • Everyone, children and adults, should wear US Coast Guard-approved life jackets whenever they are in open water, or on watercraft.
  • Parents and teens should understand how using alcohol and drugs increase the risk of drowning while swimming or boating.


  • Fatal and nonfatal drowning typically begins with a period of panic, loss of the normal breathing pattern, breath-holding, air hunger, and a struggle by the victim to stay above the water. 
  • Reflex inspiratory efforts eventually occur, leading to hypoxemia by means of either aspiration or reflex laryngospasm that occurs when water contacts the lower respiratory tract
  • Results in decreased lung compliance, ventilation-perfusion mismatching, and intrapulmonary shunting, leading to hypoxemia that causes diffuse organ dysfunction


  • Prehospital
    • Rescue and immediate resuscitation by bystanders improves the outcome of drowning victims
  • Ventilation is generally considered the most important initial treatment for victims of submersion injury. Rescue breathing should begin as soon as the rescuer reaches shallow water or a stable surface. Note that the priorities of CPR in the drowning victim differ from those in the typical adult cardiac arrest patient, which emphasizes immediate uninterrupted chest compressions. If the patient does not respond to the delivery of two rescue breaths that make the chest rise, the rescuer should immediately begin performing high-quality chest compressions.
    • In a large, population-based, observational study using a Japanese government registry, no significant difference in neurologic outcome at one month was found between drowning victims treated initially with compression-only CPR and conventional CPR with rescue breathing
  • According to the AHA Guidelines for Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), routine cervical spine immobilization can interfere with essential airway management and is not recommended
    • unless there are clinical signs of injury or a concerning mechanism (eg, dive into shallow water)
  • Pulses may be very weak and difficult to palpate in the hypothermic patient with sinus bradycardia or atrial fibrillation; a careful search for pulses should be performed for at least one minute before initiating chest compressions in the hypothermic patient because these arrhythmias require no immediate treatment.
  • Attempts at rewarming hypothermic patients with a core temperature <33ºC should be initiated, either by passive or active means as available. 
  • ED
    • If tracheal intubation is performed, an orogastric tube should be placed to relieve gastric distension, which occurs from passive passage of fluid and is common in nonfatal drowning patients.
  • A bedside glucose measurement should be obtained soon upon arrival.
  • Wet clothing should be removed and rewarming initiated in hypothermic patients. 
    • Methods include passive and active external rewarming (eg, application of warm blankets, plumbed garments, heating pads, radiant heat, forced warm air), and active internal core rewarming (eg, warmed humidified oxygen via tracheal tube, heated irrigation of peritoneal and pleural cavities). 
    • In addition, endovascular and several extracorporeal rewarming options are available in some centers.
  • Possibly because of the neuroprotective effects of hypothermia, complete recovery of some patients with accidental hypothermia and cardiac arrest, despite prolonged resuscitation, has been well documented 
    • Therefore, prolonged resuscitative efforts may be effective (in rare instances, even if continued for several hours) and should be continued until the patient’s core temperature reaches 32 to 35ºC (90 to 95ºF)
  • Most non-fatal drowning victims are hospitalized because of the severity of illness or concern for clinical deterioration. 
    • However, a review of 75 pediatric patients found that all who ultimately developed symptoms did so within seven hours of immersion
  • Asymptomatic patients should be closely observed for approximately eight hours and admitted if any deterioration occurs. 
    • If vital signs, pulse oximetry, and all studies, including a chest radiograph obtained close to the end of the observation period, are normal and no clinical deterioration develops during this period, the patient may be discharged with appropriate follow-up. 
    • Clear verbal and written instructions to return to the emergency department immediately for any respiratory or other problems must be given, and the patient must be accompanied by a responsible adult.


Brenner, R. A., Taneja, G. S., Haynie, D. L., Trumble, A. C., Qian, C., Klinger, R. M., & Klebanoff, M. A. (2009). Association Between Swimming Lessons and Drowning in Childhood. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 163(3), 203. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2008.563

Causey, A. L., Tilelli, J. A., & Swanson, M. E. (2000). Predicting discharge in uncomplicated near-drowning. The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, 18(1), 9-11. doi:10.1016/s0735-6757(00)90039-1

Chandy, D., MD, & Weinhouse, G. L., MD. (2020). Drowning (submersion injuries). Retrieved August 01, 2020, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/drowning-submersion-injuries

Denny, S. A., Quan, L., Gilchrist, J., Mccallin, T., Shenoi, R., Yusuf, S., . . . Weiss, J. (2019). Prevention of Drowning. Pediatrics, 143(5). doi:10.1542/peds.2019-0850

Hoek, T. L., Morrison, L. J., Shuster, M., Donnino, M., Sinz, E., Lavonas, E. J., . . . Gabrielli, A. (2010). Part 12: Cardiac Arrest in Special Situations: 2010 American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care. Circulation, 122(18_suppl_3). doi:10.1161/circulationaha.110.971069

Lavonas, E. J., Drennan, I. R., Gabrielli, A., Heffner, A. C., Hoyte, C. O., Orkin, A. M., . . . Donnino, M. W. (2015). Part 10: Special Circumstances of Resuscitation. Circulation, 132(18 suppl 2). doi:10.1161/cir.0000000000000264

Pratt, F. D., & Haynes, B. E. (1986). Incidence of “Secondary Drowning” after saltwater submersion. Annals of Emergency Medicine, 15(9), 1084-1087. doi:10.1016/s0196-0644(86)80133-0

Schmidt, A. C., Sempsrott, J. R., Hawkins, S. C., Arastu, A. S., Cushing, T. A., & Auerbach, P. S. (2016). Wilderness Medical Society Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Drowning. Wilderness & Environmental Medicine, 27(2), 236-251. doi:10.1016/j.wem.2015.12.019

Tobin, J. M., Ramos, W. D., Pu, Y., Wernicki, P. G., Quan, L., & Rossano, J. W. (2017). Bystander CPR is associated with improved neurologically favourable survival in cardiac arrest following drowning. Resuscitation, 115, 39-43. doi:10.1016/j.resuscitation.2017.04.004

Venema, A. M., Groothoff, J. W., & Bierens, J. J. (2010). The role of bystanders during rescue and resuscitation of drowning victims. Resuscitation, 81(4), 434-439. doi:10.1016/j.resuscitation.2010.01.005

Episode 26: EVALI

Emergency Medicine, Pulmonology, Uncategorized

On this episode, host Jason Woods speaks with Dr Heather Hoch DeKeyser, pediatric pulmonologist, about EVALI (e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury). This recently recognized condition has caused numerous people to suffer severe lung disease. We discuss the definition, current approach, remaining mysteries, and potential causes.

All treatment discussed is based on the most recent CDC EVALI guideline at the time of recording – available here


Heather Hoch DeKeyser MD – Assistant Professor, Dept. of Pediatrics, Section of Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado

Additional Resources:


  1. Layden JE, Ghana I, Pray I, et al. Pulmonary Illness Related to E-Cigarette Use in Illinois and Wisconsin – Preliminary Report. N Engl J Med. 2019 Sep 6. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1911614. [Epub ahead of print]
  2. Butt YM, Smith ML, Tazelaar HD. Pathology of Vaping Associated Injury. Letter to the Editor. N Engl J Med. 2019; 381:1780-1781. doin: 10.1056/NEJMc1913069
  3. Marsden L, Michalicek ZD, Christensen, ED. More on the Pathology of Vapid Associated Lung Injury. Letter to the Editor. N Engl J Med 2020; 382:387-39 doin: 10.1056/NEJMc1914980.
  4. Diaz CD, Carroll BJ, Hemyari A. Pulmonary Illness Related to E-Cigarette USe. Letter to the Editor. N Engl J Med 2020; 382-386. doi: 10.1056/NEJMc1915111

Episode 25: Sticky Education

Education, Uncategorized

On this episode, host Jason Woods speaks with Dr. Janet Corral, medical education expert, about some high yield tips to improve the success of your education! We also discuss the state of medical education as a whole and how to adjust the delivery for the needs of the current learners.


Janet Corral, Associate Professor, University of Colorado School of Medicine, PhD Educational Technology

Little Big Little: What is Vaping?

Adolescent Medicine, Education, Emergency Medicine, Podcast, Pulmonology, Uncategorized

This is the first segment in a series of “shorts” – smaller quick hit episodes on a focused topic. I’m going to affectionately call them “Little Big Littles”.

On this Little Big Little, host Jason Woods speaks with Dr. Heather Hoch about what we might need to know about vaping to take care of our patients.


Heather Hoch MD – Assistant Professor, Dept. of Pediatrics, Section of Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado

Important Resources

  1. CDC Electronic Cigarette Information
  2. Smokefree.gov

Episode 21: HIV Screening in the Pediatric ED

Adolescent Medicine, Emergency Medicine, Infectious Disease, Uncategorized

On this episode, host Jason Woods speaks with Dr. Amy Grover about HIV screening in the pediatric emergency department. Dr. Grover works in both the section of emergency medicine and hospital medicine and has an interest in HIV screening.

The highlights:

  • An estimated 50% of adolescents with HIV do not know they have contracted HIV
  • Acute retroviral syndrome has many non specific symptoms and can be difficult to diagnosis but includes the following
    • Fever
    • Fatigue
    • Myalgias
    • Nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea
    • Rash that can involve the hands and feed
    • Pharyngitis is typically not as exudative as EBV
  • CDC guidelines recommend that EVERY person ages 13-64 who is sexually active be screened for HIV at least once in their lives, and yearly if ongoing risk for exposure
  • One of the difficult aspects of setting up a screening program is deciding who is responsible for follow up of the results. Each institution will have to discuss what is appropriate for their setting
  • Do not forget to evaluate for risk of other STI, including Syphilis (prevalence is rising in the US)
  • Most rapid screening tests that do not use whole blood can not detect HIV infection until there is an antibody response (3 weeks – 3 months)
  • The 4th generation HIV test can detect infection starting as early as 15 days after infection. Note that there is still a latent period when detection is not possible.
  • One of the important reasons to screen patients is that there is evidence that knowledge of HIV infection decreases high-risk behavior.
  • The benefit and effect of HIV screening may depend on the regional HIV rates


Amy Grover MD – University of Colorado School of Medicine, Sections of Emergency Medicine and Hospital Medicine, Children’s Hospital Colorado

Important Resources

  1. CDC HIV Resource Library


  1. Wilson KM, Klein JD. Adolescents who use the emergency department as their usual source of care. Arch Pediatric Adolesc Med. 2000 Apr;154(4):361-5.
  2. Kitahadta MM, et al. Effect of Early vs Deferred Antiretroviral therapy for HIV on Survival. NEJM 2009;360(18):1815-26.
  3. Marks G, et al. Meta-analysis of high-risk sexual behavior in persons aware and unaware they are infected with HIV in the United States: implications for HIV prevention programs. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr.2005 Aug 1;39(4):446-53.
  4. Cohen MS, et al. Antiretroviral Therapy for the prevention of HIV-1 Transmission. NEJM 2016; 375(9):830-839.
  5. Marks G, et al. Estimating sexual transmission of HIV from persons aware and unaware that they are infected with the virus in the USA. AIDS.2006 Jun 26;20(10):1447-50.
  6. Wood E, et al. Does this Adult Patient have Early HIV infection? JAMA 2014; 213 (3): 278-285.
  7. Mehta AS, et al. Practices, Beliefs, and Perceived Barriers to Adolescent Human Immunodeficiency Virus Screening in the Emergency Department. Pediatr Emerg Care 2015; 31:621-626.
  8. Akhter A, et al. Rapid Human Immunodeficiency Virus Testing in the Pediatric Emergency Department: A National Survey of Attitudes Among Pediatric Emergency Practitioners. Pediatr Emerg Care 2012; 28:1257-1262.
  9. Haines CJ, et al. Pediatric emergency department – based rapid HIV testing: adolescent attitudes and preferences. Pediatr Emerg Care.2011 Jan;27(1):13-6.

Episode 18a: Anti-trafficking and the role of the ED

Adolescent Medicine, Emergency Medicine, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Trafficking, Uncategorized

On this episode, host Jason Woods speaks with Dr. Makini Chisolm-Straker, an ED physician in New York who is also a founder of HEAL Trafficking, an organization that works to fight human traffickingi n all forms. This is part 1 of a 2 part discussion. The highlights:

  1. Definition of trafficking
    1. recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, and/or obtaining of a person
    2. By the use of force, fraud, and/or coercion
    3. For purposes of labor and/or sexual exploitation
  2. Numbers and general info
    1. Overall labor trafficking is most common
    2. Under age 18 “survival” sex considered victim of trafficking
    3. US reports 15-50k brought to US each year for trafficking, but tn 2014, US DOS reported 21,000 calls to its trafficking hotline, so it is likely far under-reported in the official numbers.
    4. On a 2016 survey of victims of trafficking, 55% had seen an ED/UC while trafficked
  3. There is no comprehensive trafficking screening tool in existence
    1. The Greenbaum tool is only for use in english speaking patients ages 13-17 and evaluates for risk of sex trafficking
  4. Quotes from Makini’s published work that I loved
    1. It is important NOT to employ the Greenbaum Tool until the clinician has had a frank conversation about mandated reporting with the patient. Too often clinicians envision trafficking as a crime from which which victims must be rescued or saved. That is not our job. And it does not work. Victims that are unwillingly rescued often end up back in exploitation circumstances. Many young people in trafficking situations do not identify as victims and some feel a strong sense of agency: others expect to be criminalized by authority figures because that has been their experience.
    2. We must apply the principles learned from because of IPV work. Survivors know more about their situation and needs than we do. Our rescue actions, intended with love, often have untoward unintended consequences for those we seek to serve.


Makini Chisolm-Straker MD, Assistant Professor of Emergendy Medicine, Mount Sinai Health System

Other Resources

  1. HEAL Trafficking
  2. Training for providers that Dr. Chisolm-Straker mentioned
  3. Human trafficking hotline:
    1. Phone: 1-888-373-7888
    2. SMS:233733 text HELP or INFO
    3. Humantraffickinghotline.org
  4. HumantraffickingED.com


1.     Greenbaum VJ, Livings MS, Lai BS et al. Evaluation of a Tool to Identify Child Sex Trafficking Victims in Multiple Healthcare Settings. Journal of Adolescent Health 2018;63(6):745–52. 

2.     Greenbaum VJ, Dodd M, McCracken C. A Short Screening Tool to Identify Victims of Child Sex Trafficking in the Health Care Setting. Pediatric Emergency Care 2018;34(1):33–7. 

3.     Chisolm Straker M, Baldwin S, Gaïgbé-Togbé B, Ndukwe N, Johnson PN, Richardson LD. Health Care and Human Trafficking: We are Seeing the Unseen. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved 2016;27(3):1220–33. 

4.     Shandro J, Chilsom-Straker M, Duber HC et al. Human Trafficking: A Guide to Identification and Approach for the Emergency Physician. YMEM 2016;68(4):501–1. 

5.     Chisolm Straker M. Measured steps: evidence‐based anti‐trafficking efforts in the E.D. Acad Emerg Med 2018.  doi: 10.1111/acem.13552 

Episode 15b: Specific Renal Issues

Education, Nephrology, Podcast, Uncategorized

This is part 2 of a discussion with Dr. Danielle Soranno, on specific renal issues in the ED. She discusses hyperkalemia, end-stage renal disease, and HUS among others. If you haven’t listened to Part 1 yet, got back an episode in the feed.


Danielle Soranno MD,  Assistant Professor, Pediatrics, Bioengineering & Medicine
University of Colorado and Children’s Hospital Colorado

Episode 15a: Nephrology Overview with Danielle Sorrano

Education, Emergency Medicine, Nephrology, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Podcast, Uncategorized

On this episode, host Jason Woods tries to tackle all things renal. This is part 1 of a discussion with Dr. Danielle Soranno, who gives an overview of how she approaches the kidney and what things we need to know in general. She talks about common renal issues in the emergency department and what information she wants to hear when called for a consult

Part 2 will post later this week and digs into some specific illnesses such as HUS, hyperkalemia, and end-stage renal disease.


Danielle Soranno MD,  Assistant Professor, Pediatrics, Bioengineering & Medicine
University of Colorado and Children’s Hospital Colorado

Important Information

  1. Fab Four – FABU
    1. Function
    2. Anatomy
    3. Blood Pressure
    4. Urine

Episode 14: UTICalc with Nader Shaikh

Calculators, Emergency Medicine, Infectious Disease, Uncategorized

On this episode, host Jason Woods speaks to Dr. Nader Shaikh about his recent paper on the development of a calculator (UTICalc) to estimate the probability of UTI in pediatric patients. The calculator itself is fantastic and easy to use (see link below) but the discussion centers on the methods behind the calculator. We dig into how these calculators are developed, how to determine if they are accurate/useful, and how to use them in clinical practice.

Important Links

  1. UTI Calculator link – UTICalc
  2. AAP UTI Guidelines, 2016 Reaffirmation of 2011 Guidelines
  3. AAP 2011 UTI Guidelines Update


  1. Shaikh N et al. “Development and Validation of a Calculator for Estimating the Probability of Urinary Tract Infection in Young Febrile Children”. JAMA Pediatr. 2018 Jun 1;172(6):550-556. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.0217.
  2. Roberts  KB; Subcommittee on Urinary Tract Infection, Steering Committee on Quality Improvement and Management.  Urinary tract infection: clinical practice guideline for the diagnosis and management of the initial UTI in febrile infants and children 2 to 24 months.  Pediatrics. 2011;128(3):595-610.Lavelle  JM, Blackstone  MM, Funari  MK,  et al.  Two-step process for ED UTI screening in febrile young children: reducing catheterization rates.  Pediatrics. 2016;138(1):e20153023.
  3. Shaikh  N, Morone  NE, Bost  JE, Farrell  MH.  Prevalence of urinary tract infection in childhood: a meta-analysis.  Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2008;27(4):302-308.
  4. Hoberman  A, Wald  ER, Reynolds  EA, Penchansky  L, Charron  M.  Pyuria and bacteriuria in urine specimens obtained by catheter from young children with fever.  J Pediatr. 1994;124(4):513-519.
  5. Hoberman  A, Chao  HP, Keller  DM, Hickey  R, Davis  HW, Ellis  D.  Prevalence of urinary tract infection in febrile infants.  J Pediatr. 1993;123(1):17-23.


Nader Shaikh MD, Associate Professor, General Academic Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh