Paul Harch, M.D.
ANH-USA Board Member
Dr. Harch is a hyperbaric medicine, diving, and emergency medicine physician who is a Diplomate of the American Board of Hyperbaric Medicine and the Board of Certification in Emergency Medicine of the American Board of Physician Specialties. Dr. Harch’s clinical experience through 2007 spans 23 years in hospital-based emergency medicine and 21 years of hyperbaric medicine. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1980 and was awarded Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa status on graduation from college. He has trained in general surgery, radiology, diving, and hyperbaric medicine.
In recognition of his accomplishments in clinical practice, teaching, and research he was awarded fellowship status in the American College of Hyperbaric Medicine in 1997. He also received the Edgar End Award from the American College of Hyperbaric Medicine in 1994 and the Richard A. Neubauer Award for Excellence in Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in Pediatric Neurology in 2003.
Dr. Harch is the national coordinator and co-principal investigator of HOTFAST (The Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Acute Stroke Trial). In 2001 he completed a study on SPECT brain imaging in toxic brain injury. In the past three years he has made presentations on the application of HBOT to autism and chronic neurological conditions to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, Human Services, and Education and to Representative Dan Burton’s Subcommittee on Wellness and Human Rights of the Government Reform and Oversight Committee.
Dr. Harch is the first President of the International Hyperbaric Medical Association (established in 2001) and President of the International Hyperbaric Medical Association Foundation. He has lectured and presented his work at numerous scientific meetings throughout the U.S. and overseas. In April, 2004 Dr. Harch was nominated and became a semi-finalist for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s Pioneer Award.
Dr. Harch currently divides his time between his practice in the New Orleans area and his satellite Chicago facility where he continues to explore the effect of HBOT on neurological disorders, animal and human research, teaching and medical society projects. (The New Orleans facility is a contract site for Charity Hospital of New Orleans, the primary teaching institution of Louisiana State University (LSU) and Tulane University Schools of Medicine, and the VA Hospital of New Orleans). Dr. Harch is also a Clinical Assistant Professor and Director of the LSU School of Medicine’s Hyperbaric Medicine Fellowship Program and Director of the soon to be opened Hyperbaric Medicine Unit at Medical Center of Louisiana in New Orleans.
Dr. Paul Harch is a board certified hyperbaric and emergency medicine physician who has become one of the foremost authorities in the United States on the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy and SPECT brain blood flow imaging in neurology. Dr. Harch is a magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of California, Irvine in 1976 and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1980 who has trained in general surgery and radiology. His hyperbaric career began in 1985. He received initial diving accident management training through the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and then prolonged instruction and experience under the direction of and in association with one of the world’s most noted diving medicine experts, Dr. Keith Van Meter. With the aid of a steady supply of injured divers from the Gulf of Mexico Dr. Harch began an in-depth study of brain decompression illness (DCI) in the late 1980’s. As he evaluated divers with brain DCI presenting for primary treatment weeks to months after their accident or with residual brain injury following neurological plateau on the standard U.S. Navy recompression protocol, it became obvious he was treating ischemic (low blood flow) brain injury and not residual gas. This was unequivocally confirmed in 1990 and 1991 with two diving cases, a 43 year old demented commercial diver 7 months after injury and 5 months after U.S. Navy treatment plateau, and a 33 year old demented junior high school math teacher, misdiagnosed and committed to a psychiatric hospital after a diving accident and then aborted suicide attempt. Following a call to Dr. Neubauer in April, 1990, Dr. Harch began treating the first diver and eventually achieved clinical, psychometric, and SPECT brain blood flow improvement. The second diver experienced normalization of his EEG, complete recovery of neurological function and a 22 point recoup of his pre-accident IQ before the end of his treatment protocol. He returned to work and obtained a masters’ degree in educational psychology. Today, he is actively employed by the State of New Mexico, testing educationally handicapped children. Dr. Harch reported these cases and subsequent others at scientific meetings.