|Abstract Background The Utstein style for drowning (USFD) was published in 2003 with the aim of improving drowning research. To support a revision of the USFD, the current study aimed to generate an inventory of the use of the USFD parameters and compare the findings of the publications that have used the USFD. Methods A search in Pubmed, Embase, the Cochrane Library, Web of Science and Scopus was performed to identify studies that used the USFD and were published between 01-10-2003 and 22-03-2015. We also searched in Pubmed, Embase, the Cochrane Library, Web of Science, and Scopus for all publications that cited the two publications containing the original ILCOR advisory statement introducing and recommending the USFD. In total we identified 14 publications by groups that explicitly used elements of the USFD for collecting and reporting their data. Results Of the 22 core and 19 supplemental USFD parameters, 6–19 core (27–86%) and 1–12 (5–63%) supplemental parameters were used; two parameters (5%) have not been used in any publication. Associations with outcome were reported for nine core (41%) and five supplemental (26%) USFD parameters. The USFD publications also identified non-USFD parameters related to outcome: initial cardiac rhythm, time points and intervals during resuscitation, intubation at the drowning scene, first hospital core temperature, serum glucose and potassium, the use of inotropic/vasoactive agents and the Paediatric Index of Mortality 2-score. Conclusions Fourteen USFD based drowning publications have been identified. These publications provide valuable information about the process and quality of drowning resuscitation and confirm that the USFD is helpful for a structured comparison of the outcome of drowning resuscitation.