Bell et al listed criteria for making the diagnosis of positional asphyxia, which occurs when a person becomes entrapped in a position where he or she is unable to ventilate enough to survive.



(1) The victim is found in a position that does not allow for adequate respiration.

(2) The victim placed himself/herself in the position inadvertently (accidentally, not intentionally). There is no evidence that implicates anyone else causing the incident.

(3) A reason is identified that explains why the person was unable to extricate him/herself.

(4) There is no obstruction of the internal airway.

(5) There is no evidence of suffocating or poisonous gas inhalation (carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, etc).

(6) There is no evidence of significant coronary artery or other cardiac disease.



• Positions associated with insufficient respiration include restrictive or confining space, flexion of the head down onto the chest, and complete external airway compression.


To read more or access our algorithms and calculators, please log in or register.