Byard et al listed a number of risk factors associated with positional asphyxia. These can often help to understand why the accident occurred. The authors are from the University of Adelaide in Australia.


Examples of positional asphyxia:

(1) morbidly obese male unconscious as a result of an automobile accident

(2) demented adult caught under a bed rail in a nursing home

(3) a person caught under a large amount of sand or mud

(4) an intoxicated adult under police restraint



(1) How did the person get into the position resulting in asphyxia?

(2) What prevented the person from escaping that fate?


Risk factors that may contribute to positional asphyxia:

(1) loss of consciousness

(2) sedation or intoxication

(3) confusion or disorientation

(4) head injury

(5) other neurological disease

(6) physical restraint

(7) physical disability

(8) paralysis or weakness

(9) excessive weight (morbid obesity, extrinsic compression)


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