No more slaps on the back for choking victims.
The American Red Cross and the American Heart Association have formally dropped that step as the recommended first way to help someone who is choking and have endorsed the Heimlich maneuver as the sole treatment.
The technique involves reaching around the choking victim from behind and squeezing on the abdomen just below the sternum, forcing air through the windpipe to clear the airway.
Until now, the two organizations had recommended four sharp blows to the back to try to dislodge something from the throat before using the Heimlich maneuver, also known as the abdominal thrust.
But Dr. Henry Heimlich, who developed the maneuver, argued that striking someone on the back could cause a piece of food to become more firmly lodged.
The Red Cross and the heart association, while not conceding that striking the back might be unsafe, said the change in recommendations was being made to avoid confusion among would-be rescuers.
The new advice, announced at a recent heart association conference, is to become official in a few months. The two organizations will then revise and reprint hundreds of thousands of pamphlets and posters to contain the new recommendations