June 30, 2014

Michael Getler
Ombudsman
Public Broadcasting Service PBS!
2100 "r#stal $rive
%rlington, &% 22202
$ear Mr' Getler,
(e) How Dr. Heimlich got his maneuver 40 years ago b# *o+ard Mar,el M$ Ph$, edited b# Margaret
M#ers, PBS -e+s*our, June 1., 2014'
/he stor# includes t+o 0actual errors and t+o 1ossibl# unsubstantiated claims' 2n recent e3mails, 2 brought
the in0ormation to $r' Mar,el and Ms' M#ers' 4ast +ee, the# re0used to 1ublish corrections or to 1rovide
citations to su11ort the 1ossibl# unsubstantiated claims, hence this outreach'
5%"/6%4 7((O(S)
/he italici8ed sentences are 0rom the article' 29ve underlined the errors'
1! By 1988, Dr. Heimlich was recommending the use of abdominal thrusts as a treatment for drowning....
%s 2 in0ormed $r' Mar,el in a June 1. e3mail, m# 0ather 0irst stated circulating his dubious dro+ning rescue
claims in an %ugust 24, 1:;4 "hicago $ail# -e+s article b# re1orter %rt Snider, ew hug can save
drowning victim' /he record clearl# demonstrates that 0or the ne<t 0our decades, m# 0ather relentlessl#
1romoted the treatment' Per a 5ebruar# ;, 2014 intervie+ he did +ith the Boston Globe, m# 0ather
continues to do so'
2n a June 1; e3mail, Ms' M#ers +rote me, =>e! are ha11# to add) 5rom the mid31:;0s to the late 1:?0s,
$r' *eimlich recommended the use o0 abdominal thrusts as a treatment 0or dro+ning, even though he had
little data to su11ort such an assertion' %nd add an editor@s note'A 2n a same3da# res1onse 2 reiterated that
the date range =mid31:;0s to the late 1:?0sA +as +rong'
2n a June 2. e3mail, Ms' M#ers stated that she and $r' Mar,el re0used to 1ublish a correction to the error'
2! !or several years, Dr. Heimlich also advocated treating "atients with cancer, H#$ and %yme disease
by infecting them with malaria....
%s 2 in0ormed $r' Mar,el in m# June 1. e3mail, to m# ,no+ledge the 0irst 1ublished re1ort in +hich m#
0ather advocated in0ecting 1atients +ith malaria is Dr. Heimlich &an !i' &ho(ing !ast) Here*s +hat ,lse
he -reats) .nconventional /urgeon 0uts +ar +ar .nder the 1nife, Has ovel &ure for &ancer, -oo b#
Michael 4' Bing, >all Street Journal, %1ril 30' 1:?2'
2n a11ro<imatel# 1::0, m# 0ather began decades o0 clandestine o00shore Cmalariothera1#C e<1eriments on
6'S' and 0oreign 1atients +hich resulted in investigations b# the "enters 0or $isease "ontrol and Prevention
1::03:3!, the 5ood and $rug %dministration 1:::!, the $e1artment o0 Justice 1::4!, and 6"4% 2003!'
2n 200D, m# 0ather re1ortedl# 0unded and oversa+ =malariothera1#A e<1eriments on se< +or,ers in
7thio1ia and Gabon that +ere su1ervised b# a car rental agent +ho lives in the San 5rancisco area'
Per Heimlich stands by controversial malaria theory b# James (itchie, "incinnati Business "ourier,
5ebruar# 12, 2013 and m# 0ather9s recentl#31ublished memoir, he continues to advocate =malariothera1#'A
-eedless to sa#, 1:?232014 is not =several #earsA E it9s 32 #ears' $es1ite being made a+are o0 this
in0ormation, in a June 1; e3mail, Ms' M#ers stated that she and $r' Mar,el re0used to correct the error' 2n a
same3da# re1l#, 2 +rote, =/he! 1hrase Cseveral #earsC is 0alse and misleading to readers, so +h# stic, +ith
itFA 2n a June 2. e3mail, Ms' M#ers stated that she and $r' Mar,el re0used to 1ublish a correction'
POSS2B4G 6-S6BS/%-/2%/7$ "4%2MS)
3! #n 1923, the ew 4or( -imes re"orted that more than 5,000 "eo"le in the ../. cho(ed to death that
year, ma(ing it the si'th most common cause of accidental death. ." until that time, the usual res"onse
u"on discovering a cho(ing "erson was to sla" him or her on the bac(. But many doctors insisted that a
blow on the bac( tends to drive the ob6ect downward, lodging that obstruction even more tightly in the
airway.
2n m# June 1. e3mail, 2 as,ed $r' Mar,el to 1rovide me +ith a co1# o0 the -e+ Gor, /imes article' 2n a
June 1; e3mail, Ms' M#ers +rote me that it +as 1ublished on a Se1tember 1;, 1:;2' She did not 1rovide the
title, author, a co1# o0 the article, or an# indication that she had read the article' 2n a June 1; re1l# co1ied to
$r' Mar,el, 2 as,ed her to 1rovide me +ith a co1#' -either has res1onded to m# reHuest'
2 also as,ed $r' Mar,el to 1rovide me +ith names o0 some o0 the doctors +ho, 1rior to 1:;2, =insisted that a
blo+ on the bac, tends to drive the obIect do+n+ard, lodging that obstruction even more tightl# in the
air+a#'A 2n a June 1; e3mail to me, Ms' M#ers res1onded)
$r' Mar,el sites 7sic8 man# doctors) =Samuel Gross o0 Philadel1hia in the mid31?40s, /heodor
Billroth o0 &ienna in the 1?:0s, Moses Gunn o0 %nn %rbor in the 1?.0s, John *arve# Bellogg o0
Battle "ree, in the 1??0s 33 and 2 might add m#sel0, *o+ard Mar,el, in the 1:?0s' 2ndeed, it +as an
observation 2 made man# times +hen treating cho,ing victims in the 7(' /he 1oint here is that
man# doctors made the observation'A
2n m# June 1; re1l# co1ied to $r' Mar,el, 2 as,ed Ms' M#ers to 1rovide me +ith citations to relevant
articles b# these doctors including b# $r' Mar,el! andJor co1ies o0 the articles' -either has res1onded to
m# reHuest'
/his to res1ect0ull# reHuest that #ou)
%' Provide me +ith a determination i0 $r' Mar,el9s and Ms' M#ers9s actions are in com1liance +ith PBS
standards and guidelines'
B' %s, $r' Mar,el to 1rovide me +ith the Se1tember 1;, 1:;2 -e+ Gor, /imes article and citations to the
articles b# Gross, Billroth, Gunn, Bellogg, and an# others he +ishes to include in +hich, as he re1orted, the#
=insisted that a blo+ on the bac, tends to drive the obIect do+n+ard, lodging that obstruction even more
tightl# in the air+a#'A
5inall#, 29m sur1rised that 2 have to +rite this letter and reHuest #our involvement' $r' Mar,el is a
1rominent medical historian, #et in this case he a11arentl# doesn9t care about re1orting accurate dates or
1roviding citations to su11ort his +or,' %s 0or Ms' M#ers, it9s unclear ho+ someone +ho re0uses to correct
1rovabl# 0alse in0ormation came to be em1lo#ed as a ne+s editor at PBS'
/han, #ou 0or #our time and consideration' 20 #ou can 1rovide me +ith an a11ro<imate +hen 2 ma# e<1ect
#our re1l#, that +ould be greatl# a11reciated'
Sincerel#,
Peter M' *eimlich
3.30 (iver *ollo+ (un
$uluth, G% 300:.
1h) 20?!4;43;2?3
+ebsite) htt1)JJmed0raud'in0o
blog) htt1)JJthe3sidebar'com
e3mail) 1eter'heimlichKgmail'com

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