A Taser can deliver up to 50,000 volts of electricity, which can make even the toughest man curl up in a ball. But how common are serious injuries that result from Tasers?
Researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center have published a large study on the injuries resulting from Tasers, or “conducted electrical weapons” (CEW). Funded by the National Institute of Justice, this study reviewed over 1,000 uses of Tasers during a three-year period.
“These weapons appear to be very safe, especially when compared to other options police have for subduing violent or combative suspects,” said William P. Bozeman, M.D., and leader of the study. “That is not to say that injuries and deaths are impossible. Police and medical personnel need to be aware of the potential for serious injury and look for evidence that a person subdued by a Taser has been hurt.”
The study showed that 99.75 percent of criminals that were shocked by a Taser had mild or no injuries at all. Mild injuries are classified as scrapes and bruises. Of the 1,201 criminals studied, 492 suffered from mild injuries such as superficial puncture wounds from the Taser. There were three subjects that had substantial injuries – two had head injuries resulting from a fall and the third developed rhabdomyolysis, which is a rapid breakdown of muscle tissue. Alcohol seemed to play a part in about half of the cases.
Records were reviewed by a physician at six law enforcement agencies around the United States. The physician looked at police and medical records after each use of a Taser, classifying each case as mild, moderate or severe.
“While injuries from Taser use are uncommon, they are not unheard of,” Bozeman said. “Subjects exposed to a CEW discharge should be assessed for injuries, and appropriate medical evaluation should be provided when non-trivial injuries are apparent or suspected. Existing medical and/or psychiatric conditions in the suspect may also cause or contribute to the behavior that leads police to use a Taser or other physical force. These underlying conditions may require medical assessment and treatment, independent of Taser exposure.”
This study is published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.
So the next time you plan to get Tasered, don’t worry, you probably won’t suffer any severe injuries. But then again, who really plans on having a Taser used on them?
Source: Wake Forest Press Release