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).

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Is Henry J. Heimlich MD a fraud?

Is Henry J. Heimlich MD, the famous doctor credited with developing the "Heimlich maneuver" a fraud? We're talking about faked credentials, taking credit for other's work, doing dangerous research on human subjects, and claiming to be able to cure AIDS and other diseases without good evidence.

Read about this fascinating case. His son Peter Heimlich has diligently uncovered much evidence of the fraudulent career of his father:

In March 2002, I began researching the career of my father, Henry J. Heimlich MD, the Cincinnati physician known for the "Heimlich maneuver." To my astonishment, the information I compiled from hundreds - and eventually thousands - of original source documents revealed a dark history that was a far cry from his public image.

Among other discoveries, I uncovered that my father reportedly helped fabricate a medical residency in 1976 for Edward A. Patrick MD of Union KY. This residency has been verified as bona fide since 1976 by Jewish Hospital of Cincinnati, allowing Dr. Patrick to obtain multiple state medical licenses and to acquire board-certification in Emergency Medicine. Five of Dr. Patrick's seven state license applications list a false date of birth which shaves ten years off his age.

I had met Dr. Patrick briefly in the early 1970s and my father never mentioned him again to me. Three decades later, to my complete surprise, I learned that Dr. Patrick had been intimitely involved with every step of the maneuver and that he had been my father's closest lifetime colleague.

It now appears that Dr. Patrick (or his longtime colleague James M. Fattu MD, now of Philadelphia) had the original idea that a subdiaphragmatic thrust could remove a solid foreign body airway obstruction, a procedure that later came to be known as the "Heimlich maneuver." This would not be the first time my father claimed credit for another man's idea - for 50 years, he has falsely claimed to have invented a surgical procedure.

However, the greatest shock came from my discovery that my father and Dr. Patrick used a series of dubious case reports to promote the use of the Heimlich maneuver for drowning rescue, a specious first aid technique which has resulted in the loss of life.

In June 2002, I filed complaints about the residency and drowning frauds with the State Medical Board of Ohio. Tom Dilling, executive director of the board, told me that "faking a residency was no big deal" and that "confirming a residency was a complicated investigative matter that would require a great deal of time." As it turns out, my complaint was not the first time Mr. Dilling had been made aware of the alleged residency, yet the board has repeatedly failed to act. The only reasonable conclusion is that the board is protecting the interests of Jewish Hospital and their parent HMO, the Health Alliance. (Since late 2002, Dr. Patrick's file has been kept under locked keypad security at the office of Gary Harris, the Health Alliance's general counsel.)

Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery and current AG Jim Petro have been fully informed of the residency and the actions of the medical board, yet have failed to act. (Paperwork on request.) Adding to the challenge of bringing out this story, my brother, Phil Heimlich, is a well-known Cincinnati politician who is now Mr. Petro's running mate in the 2006 Ohio Gubernatorial Primary. Phil is also the longtime vice president of the Heimlich Institute.

Complaints have been made to numerous organizations, including: the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, the American Board of Emergency Medicine, JCAHO, the Ohio Hospital Association, the Health Alliance, Jewish Hospital and others. All have refused to take action. (Paperwork on request.)

Information has also been brought to the media, resulting in numerous articles. An abbreviated list of key articles and other documents is below - PMH


Check out these websites for more information:

Henry J. Heimlich, Edward A. Patrick and the Heimlich Maneuver Case Frauds

Malariotherapy for HIV (Henry Heimlich MD)