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Patrick, Edward

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Edward Patrick

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Edward Patrick
(October 7, 1937 - December 23, 2009 )
Born in the United States
Year of Discovery: 1974
Co-Discoverer of the Lifesaving Heimlich Maneuver That Saves Choking Victims

If history had run its course along a slightly different path we might have no idea who Henry Heimlich is. Instead, we might be hailing the well-known lifesaving technique for choking victims as the Patrick Maneuver. Dr. Edward Patrick collaborated with Henry Heimlich for over two decades in developing and promoting the well-known Heimlich Maneuver. But, did Patrick in fact develop the underlying theory for the maneuver before Heimlich? Though controversy continues to swirl about who first developed the Heimlich Maneuver, it is clear the technique works. Over 50,000 choking victims are alive today thanks to the Heimlich (Patrick) Maneuver.

Choking is a medical emergency that requires quick and decisive intervention. The most likely culprit in choking is food that becomes lodged in the throat. The food, or other foreign object, blocks the airway and restricts the ability of the victim to breath. A partial blockage is evident when the victim is able to cough or wheeze, indicating that at least some air is flowing into and out of the lungs. A complete blockage leaves the victim unable to breath, speak or cough.   This is a critical situation that can quickly lead to death if help is not offered. The Heimlich Maneuver relies on the body's own pressure to expel the foreign object. The theory is similar to that of a bottle cap being popped off when a fizzy drink is shaken up. The pressure inside the bottle is simply too strong for the cap to hold it in. It's the same with the Heimlich Maneuver. When someone performs the Heimlich Maneuver it produces an internal force that overpowers the foreign object and sends it flying. With a well placed thrust, the results are extraordinary and lifesaving.

As is so often the case for those who make scientific discoveries, Patrick was more than a one-trick pony. Prior to studying medicine, he studied electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It was there he first became fascinated with the dynamics of energy - particularly the dynamics of electromechanical energy conversion (the conversion of one form of energy into another). This led Patrick to theorize that the potential energy stored in the lungs could be converted to kinetic energy in removing a foreign object lodged in the airway. This is the principle upon which the Heimlich Maneuver operates. It was during surgery with Heimlich that the concept took on new definition. Heimlich demonstrated to Patrick how pressing on the abdomen, beneath the rib cage, compressed the lungs. This confirmed Patrick's theory and laid the foundation for the two to develop the Heimlich Maneuver. Patrick was a tireless promoter of the Heimlich Maneuver over the years, and played a key role in winning public acceptance of the intervention. In fact, it was following Patrick's urging that then Surgeon General C. Everett Koop issued a statement supporting the use of the Heimlich Maneuver as the primary intervention with choking victims.

But, times change. Though it is largely unknown, the American Red Cross no longer recommends the Heimlich Maneuver as the first intervention with choking victims. They have, in fact, essentially reverted to their pre-1986 guidelines that call for back slaps to be the first step in assisting choking victims. If the back slaps do not dislodge the object, then a series of "abdominal thrusts" (no longer directly referred to as the Heimlich Maneuver) are to be administered.


Introduction by Tim Anderson

Is Edward Patrick a Saint?  Or a Scoundrel?


While the Heimlich Maneuver is widely accepted and has saved many lives, both Henry Heimlich and the co-discoverer of the method, Edward Patrick, wallow in controversy. It appears that having tasted success and wide public acclaim with the Heimlich Maneuver, each wanted continued acclaim--possibly at the cost of sound scientific method. It is this accusation, that they promoted other lifesaving techniques that do not work, that has most damaged the pair's reputations.

Click on the image to the left to read an overview of the controversies. Is Edward Patrick really who he claims to be? Is there a dark side to Henry Heimlich? We encourage you investigate this fascinating tale of accusation and denial--then decide for yourself. You can cast your vote on the overview page to help us decide if these men are saints or scoundrels.



Table of Contents

Links to More Information About the Scientist
Key Insight
Key Experiment or Research
Quotes by the Scientist
Quotes About the Scientist
Fun Trivia About The Science
The Science Behind the Discovery
Personal Information
Key Contributing Scientists
Science Discovery Timeline
Recommended Books About the Science
Books by the Scientist
Books About the Scientist
Major Academic Papers
Curriculum Vitae
Links to Science and Related Information on the Subject


Links to More About the Scientist & the Science

A timeline of Patrick's association with Dr. Heimlich:

Patrick's case report about using the Heimlich Maneuver on a drowning victim:

A newspaper article alleging Patrick misrepresented his credentials (pdf):

Dr. Patrick's obituary:

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Key Insight

Key Experiments or Research

Quotes by the Scientist

Quotes About the Scientist


Fun Trivia About the Science

The Science Behind the Discovery

Personal Information

Key Contributing Scientists to the Discovery

Scientific Discovery Timeline

Recommended Books About the Science

Books by the Scientist

Books About the Scientist



Major Academic Papers Written by the Scientist

Curriculum Vitae

Links to Information on the Science