In this section
Drowning is the process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion/immersion in a liquid
Terms such as "near-drowning," "secondary drowning," and "wet drowning" are no longer used and do not influence management
Circumstances leading to the drowning. Consider the following:
Consider a medical cause for drowning in children who are competent swimmers, for example:
Children who are asymptomatic and alert require no investigations
Further investigations should be guided by the history and clinical condition
Key principles of management are maintaining adequate oxygenation, preventing aspiration and stabilising body temperature.
Vomiting is common in drowning victims and aspiration of gastric contents is a major complication. Spontaneously breathing children should initially be placed in the lateral decubitus (recovery) position.
Prophylactic antibiotics have no role. Antibiotics have not been shown to improve outcome and should be restricted to patients demonstrating signs of infection or sepsis, or in the rare situation of submersion in grossly contaminated water. Please refer to
local antimicrobial guidelines
There is some evidence for therapeutic hypothermia in children with hypoxic brain injury. This should be discussed with a Paediatric Intensivist
For emergency advice and paediatric or neonatal ICU transfers, see
Adverse prognostic indicators
Last Updated June 2020