The Athenian philosopher Socrates is famous (among other things) for his manner of death: he was executed by being made to drink a concoction of poison hemlock. Let’s say that a group of modern doctors travelled back in time to the execution, carrying no modern technology but retaining their medical knowledge. Assuming they convinced the Athenian officials to hand over Socrates to them after he stopped breathing, would they be able to revive him?
I’m particularly interested in the claim (which I’ve set in bold above) that artificial ventilation can be used as an antidote of sorts. Would this include mouth-to-mouth resuscitation? I’m basically wondering whether there are any risks associated with someone receiving mouth-to-mouth for two or three days straight. I know that nowadays machines can keep people breathing indefinitely, though I imagine they are more sophisticated and perhaps less erratic and invasive than a team of humans performing mouth-to-mouth.
I was trying to find the longest successful CPR session and I’ve found records of 6-8 hours. Since the CPR recommendations now are just for chest compressions without rescue breathing this doesn’t seem to match the recommendations for keeping the hemlock victim on a ventilator.
My uneducated guess is that after 2-3 days of chest compressions you would have broken enough ribs that the patient would likely bleed out from lacerations. CPR mainly works by keeping the heart pumping and not forcing air into the lungs. I don’t think this would work based on the paralyzing effects of the hemlock.
CPR and rescue breathing are not the same thing. Supposedly, hemlock poisoning is a situation where artificial ventilation (which rescue breathing is one form of) would be useful, without chest compressions being necessary. Now, of course, it’s also possible that the premise is itself false, and that artificial respiration without artificial circulation is useless for a hemlock victim, but I’m not in a position to judge that.
Artificial respiration is artificial respiration. It doesn’t matter what is stuffing air into the patient’s lungs, whether it’s a machine or another human being. If it’s another human being, then the air is slightly deoxygenated, but still rich enough to sustain life. If a mechanical ventilator can keep a person alive for days, then a team of stubborn-ass rescue breathers ought to be able to do the same.
I wouldn’t be so sure. A cursory search of the medical literature indicates that there have been comparative studies on the effectiveness of different methods. Paywalls prevent me from reading all the results, but the mere existence of such studies shows that those with considerably more medical knowledge than I have at least suspected that there were some important differences.