Navigation Links
First Study to Test Real-World Effects of Stun Gun Use Raises Questions about Safety

The rate of sudden deaths increased six-fold in the first year that California law enforcement agencies deployed the use of stun guns, according to a UCSF study. Findings also showed a two-fold increase in the rate of firearm-related deaths during the same time period.

(Vocus) January 23, 2009 -- The rate of sudden deaths increased six-fold in the first year that California law enforcement agencies deployed the use of stun guns, according to a UCSF study. Findings also showed a two-fold increase in the rate of firearm-related deaths during the same time period.

The most widely used brand of stun gun is the Taser, and the team surveyed for outcomes related to the deployment of this device.

While some industry-funded controlled human studies have shown Tasers to cause no harm, this study suggests that their real-world effects pose greater medical risk and more danger than previous reports, said study author Zian H. Tseng, MD. Although the device has been advertised to decrease the number of shooting deaths and officer injuries, study outcomes showed an increase rather than a reduction in the rate of shooting deaths and no change in officer injuries following Taser deployment, he added.

Researchers found that rates of sudden and firearm-related deaths declined back to near pre-deployment levels after the first year of Taser usage. The team postulated that law enforcement agencies self-corrected, likely adjusting their usage protocol or technique after the first year.

Study findings are published online today (Jan. 22, 2009) by the American Journal of Cardiology. The journal will also publish the study in an upcoming print edition.

"Physicians and law enforcement agencies need real-world knowledge of the effects of Taser use so that risks can be weighed in establishing appropriate policies and techniques," said Tseng, who is senior author on the paper and assistant clinical professor in cardiology at UCSF. "There have been a number of animal and controlled human studies, but none that test how Tasers are used in the real world, where subjects may have pre-existing medical conditions or be under the influence of narcotics."

Under the Public Records Act and the Freedom of Information Act, researchers mailed surveys to 126 police and sheriff departments in California cities and the 10 largest cities in the U.S. The survey requested three types of information: the rates of in-custody sudden deaths in the absence of lethal force, firearm-related deaths, and officer injuries requiring emergency room visits.

Data on the rates of sudden death pre- and post-Taser deployment were provided by 50 cities, while 21 cities reported firearm deaths and four cities reported officer injuries. None of the 10 largest U.S. cities returned surveys. The team used total annual arrest data per city as reported by the Department of Justice.

For each law enforcement agency that responded, researchers gathered data for the five years prior to the deployment of Tasers and for five years after. This allowed the research team, which included epidemiologists, cardiologists and statisticians, to observe how device deployment impacted the number of emergency events that a law enforcement agency experienced.

"Sudden deaths are extremely rare events, but it is important to look into why these events happen and whether law enforcement agencies are fully informed of the real-world risks of Taser deployment," said Byron Lee, MD, first author on the paper and assistant clinical professor in cardiology at UCSF.

Stun guns like the Taser deliver a high-frequency, high-voltage current to incapacitate victims by causing momentary neuromuscular incapacitation. They are in use by over 12,000 law enforcement, military and correctional agencies in the U.S. and abroad, according to reporting by Taser International Inc.

Although not examined in this study, Tasers have been demonstrated to cause fatal ventricular tachyarrhythmias, or rapid irregular heartbeat, by capturing the heart at a higher, more dangerous rate. The increased adrenaline state resulting from a struggle and multiple, prolonged device applications near the heart may also make a person more vulnerable to sudden death.

"If law enforcement agencies using Tasers understood the risks and were trained to recognize cardiac arrest, sudden death events could be averted with timely deployment of external fibrillation or by knowing where not to apply the device's current, such as near the heart," Tseng said.

The research team noted limitations in its study, which was observational, such as a lack of information about reported sudden death events and the possibility that survey responses could be inaccurate. Also, the analysis only included a portion of cities known to be using the Taser. Several California cities and all of the largest U.S. cities surveyed were unwilling to release information.

"Further epidemiologic research is clearly needed. Without full transparency by law enforcement agencies, it is possible that our observed outcomes may actually be an underestimation of the real risks of Taser use," Tseng added.

The study was funded by the National Center for Research Resources, a component of the National Institutes of Health and the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research.

Additional co-investigators on the study were Eric Vittinghoff, PhD, Dean Whiteman and Minna Park of UCSF; and Linda L. Lau of Loyola University Chicago School of Medicine.

UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. For further information, visit


Read the full story at

Source: PRWeb
Copyright©2009 Vocus, Inc.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Hillenbrand, Inc. Announces Corrected First-Quarter Earnings Release and Conference Call Date
2. Hillenbrand, Inc. Announces First-Quarter Earnings Release Date and Conference Call
3. ISSA: First Fitness Organization to Earn National Accreditation by a Federally Recognized Accrediting Agency
4. MedCath Corporation to Hold Conference Call on First Quarter Results
5. Doctors of Indian origin unite to tackle global health problems - the creation of The first ever Global Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (GAPIO)
6. Evangelical Homes of Michigan Adopts Dakim BrainFitness System, Becoming States First Senior Facility With Brain Training Machine
7. Varian, Inc. to Webcast Conference Call on First Quarter, Fiscal Year 2009 Financial Results
8. Iran Uses AIDS Doctors' Imprisonment as First Test of Obama Administration
9. Rochester Medical Announces First Quarter 2009 Earnings Conference Call February 2, 2009
10. New Programmable System is First to Continually Sanitize the Air in HVAC Ducts and Commercial, Medical and Residential Spaces
11. First-Ever Over-the-Counter Dual Action Iron Supplement Available at Major Retail Outlets in the United States; Bifera is a New, Innovative Dual Iron Supplement Now on the Market
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
First Study to Test Real-World Effects of Stun Gun Use Raises Questions about Safety 
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... Dr. Todd S. Afferica, a noted general ... many of his patients. Dr. Afferica now uses the BIOLASE WaterLase iPlus 2.0™ in ... time the doctor uses other traditional cutting tools, such as the scalpel and high-speed ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... 24, 2015 , ... ThirdLove, the fast-growing bra company that ... offering 40% off select bras and underwear styles, now through Saturday, November 28th. ... technology and the latest fashion, quickly becoming the next generation of luxury bras. ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... The hospitals and ... several aspects of orthopedic care. They have received recognition for excellence from various ... care. , Becker's Hospital Review selected hospitals for inclusion based on national ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... Brillouin Energy Corp. ... is the developer of renewable energy technologies capable of producing commercially useful amounts ... today that its WET™ and HHT™ Boiler System reactor core modules were presented ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... The American Association of Poison ... poison centers through donations on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. Since 2012, the Tuesday ... inspires people to collaborate in improving their local communities and help give back ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... leader in LCD screen protection and glare-elimination technology, is providing a vital solution to health care ... electronic documentation system. Photo - ... ... ... A study in 2013 by the National Institutes of Health found that ...
(Date:11/24/2015)...   Renowned UAE nutritionist ... advice and insights on supplements and healthy diet ing ... of Dubai residents are not consuming enough fruits ... femMED launches comprehensive solutions for women , s most common ... are not consuming enough to keep themselves healthy. A local expert addressed how ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... BRISTOL, Pa. , Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... primarily for the medical research, clinical diagnostic and ... Kord-Valmark, a leading manufacturer of quality petri dishes. ... to offer clients a platform of products that ... and manufactured with the highest quality.  ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: