Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Heimlich the hero?

Heimlich the hero?

It's been a tough new century for Dr. Henry Heimlich, who's gone from Ohio's most famous doctor to its most disgraced.

His hometown paper, The Cincinnati Enquirer, busted him last year for stealing credit for a surgical procedure invented by a Hungarian doctor. Both The L.A. Times and New York Times have derided him for advocating the use of his Heimlich maneuver in drowning rescues, as well as for his efforts to cure AIDS and cancer by giving patients malaria. And in August, Scene wrote about scientists who suspected Heimlich of faking cases to burnish his reputation ("Heimlich's Maneuver," August 11).

All the same, it's hard to find good heroes in Cincinnati. So the Cincinnati Business Courier recently announced that it would bestow its greatest honor, the Lifetime Health Care Hero Award, on the 84-year-old Heimlich.

"As journalists at the Business Courier, we realize there are detractors to what Dr. Heimlich has done in the past," says Doug Bolton, the paper's publisher. "His work has been controversial, and we've written about that and we will continue to write about it."

In the meantime, they'll just give him lifetime achievement awards.

But the paper was quick to place the blame, er, credit for Heimlich's honor on a jury of community leaders.

"We as journalists don't make those determinations," Bolton says. "We put the program together. The jury pulls those nominations . . . and looks at the contributions of each nominee before deciding on the lifetime hero."

And just who nominated the dubious doctor? His lawyer, Joe Dehner.