LifeVac: Don’t choke on the consequences!

With 220 deaths reported in 2016 as a result of choking, prevention methods are something that should be discussed. Data collected by the office for national statistics shows that 85% of choking deaths were caused by food in 2016. The report shows that choking is increased in hospital patients and nursing home residents over any other demographic group with over 100 deaths from individuals 60 years old or over¹.

A recent article from the Care Quality Commission² highlighted that a care home was fined a whopping sum of £82,429.72. This was due to a lack of basic patient understanding lead to the resident being hospitalised. The home closed shortly after. The patient suffered with swallowing difficulties which restricted what he could eat and drink. The precautions were not taken into consideration, which caused the patient to choke on his porridge. Whilst it is an unfortunate incident, it showcases the importance of awareness and risk factors that can cause choking and the consequences of not being prepared.

Limitations of the Heimlich

The Heimlich manoeuvre can be effective in many situations but at times, can fail. After a distressing conversation in a hospital waiting room with a mourning parent after the failure of the Heimlich manoeuvre, Arthur Lih decided to dedicate himself to create a lifesaving apparatus. With the help of Dr. Brody and a few close friends, the LifeVac was invented³. With its unique design, the LifeVac is to be placed over the mouth. It is then pushed to lock valves, restricting further air putting pressure on any lodged food or objects.

The negative pressure generated by the force of the suction is 3 times greater than the highest recorded abdominal thrust. The LifeVac is capable of generating over 300 millimetres of mercury (mmHg) suction⁴ . Like a toilet plunger, you retract the device and the air pressure retracts the lodged object.

When should I use LifeVac?

After four minutes of oxygen deprivation, brain damage occurs so time is of the essence.

In situations when there are limitations with patient handling, this approach can be vital. It removes the risk of having to take patients out of wheelchairs and hospital beds to perform the Heimlich. Abdominal thrusts can cause serious injuries such as rupture of the abdominal aorta and gastric perforation so the LifeVac system reduces this element and any other injuries.

For more information about the Lifevac apparatus or to speak to one of our dedicated customer services team, please call 01323 445 005.