ASPHYXY, med. jur. A temporary suspension of the motion of the heart and
arteries; swooning, fainting. This term includes persons who have been
asphyxiated by submersion or drowning; by breathing mephitic gas; by the
effect of lightning; by the effect of cold; by heat; by suspension or
strangulation. In a legal point of view it is always proper to ascertain
whether the person who has thus been deprived of his senses is the victim
of another, whether the injury has been caused by accident, or whether it
is. the act of the sufferer himself.
2. In a medical point of view it is important to ascertain whether the person is merely asphyxiated, or whether he is dead. The following general remarks have been made as to the efforts which ought to be made to restore a person thus situated,
1st. Persons asphyxiated are frequently in a state of only apparent death.
2d. Real from apparent death, can be distinguished only by putrefaction.
3d. Till putrefaction commences, aid ought to be rendered to persons asphyxiated.
4th. Experience proves that remaining several hours under water does not always produce death.
5th. The red, violet, or black color of the face, the coldness of the body, the stiffness of the limbs, are not always signs of death.
6th. The assistance to persons thus situated, maybe administered by any intelligent person; but to insure success, it must be done without discouragement for several hours together.
7th. All unnecessary persons should be sent away; five or six are in general sufficient.
8th. The place where the operation is performed should not be too warm.
9th. The assistance should be rendered with activity, but without precipitation.