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First Study to Test Real-World Effects of Stun Gun Use Raises Questions about Safety
Date:1/23/2009

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.

(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 auth
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