The term near-drowning is used to refer to an incident where an individual suffered respiratory arrest after being submerged for an extended period of time. If the victim is rescued from below the surface and resuscitated back to consciousness, and they survive the next 24 hours, it is said that they suffered a near-drowning (also nonfatal drowning.)
While it may sound like a fortunate situation because the individual did not perish, these kinds of incidents can be life-changing. The moments after a near-drowning, and the actions taken by rescuers, can make the difference as far as the long-term health complications that manifest.
Before providing some brief information below, our team of swimming pool accident lawyers must stress that an individual who has suffered a near-drowning requires immediate medical treatment. Even if the victim appears to be lucid and to not have suffered any kind of injury, they should be examined by a medical professional either way.
It bears significance reiterating that as soon as someone who was drowning is removed from the water, emergency responders should be contacted via 911 or another emergency line. Professional care soon after an individual lost consciousness due to being submerged can make the difference between a fatal drowning and a nonfatal drowning.
Before moving ahead with treatment for victims of near-drownings, it's vital to be able to ascertain that a near-drowning has taken place. Here are some of the most common symptoms.
In the hours and days following near-drownings, additional health-complications may appear.
There are only some of the most often encountered complications. The exhibition of these complications may be avoided, or their extent reduced, with prompt treatment of the victim.
Medical research, as well as numerous meta-analyses, have shown that starting resuscitating efforts as soon as the victim has been removed from the water significantly improves the chances of survival. It can also decrease long-term health complications.
If no pulse can be detected, rescuers should begin with ventilation; after administering two initial rescue breaths, if the victim does not respond or regain consciousness, chest compressions should be employed. While CPR is often seen as a life-saving procedure, using an automated external defibrillator (AED) is likely the most important component. This is due to the fact that CPR accomplishes perfusion artificially, while the use of an AED is intended to restart a non-beating heart so that the victim's own body can begin circulating oxygenated blood.
Hypoxemia and acidosis are two of the immediate concerns of a near-drowning victim. Hypoxemia is a low concentration of oxygen in the blood and is caused by asphyxiation. Acidosis occurs as a result of hypoxemia because carbon dioxide is retained within the blood while oxygen is depleted. This raises the acidity of the blood and can cause damage to various organs, namely the kidneys.
Both hypoxemia and acidosis can be reversed by adequate respiration. Oxygen saturation should be closely monitored and the airway should be secured.
Even when the best medical care is provided, a near-drowning victim may still perish or suffer incapacitating brain damage. Indeed, the best treatment for a near-drowning is preventing the incident in the first place.
The content on this page is intended to serve as an informational resource. It should not substitute examination, diagnosis, and treatment by a medical professional. If you or someone you love suffered a near-drowning, seek medical help immediately. Only after medical attention has been thoroughly provisioned should a victim or their loved one seek legal counsel.