From the BMJ archive: Medical implications of the Taser

taserOn 8 July it was reported that a man died in Manchester after police hit him with a Taser shot.

According to the BBC, this death is “the tenth to have occurred in England and Wales after police used a stun gun. In eight cases the Taser had not caused death, and in the other two—the latest death in Manchester and that of a Plymouth man in April—investigations were ongoing.”

The Guardian says; “Figures obtained from 18 out of 45 UK forces show that out of a total of 884 Taser discharges since 2009—the year when Taser International first started warning the weapon’s users not to aim for the chest—57% of all shots (518) have hit the chest area.”

In a BMJ editorial from 2010 on the medical implication of the Taser, Jason Payne-James and colleagues look at the evidence and say that serious harm is rare, but incident reporting needs to be improved.

“It is crucial, therefore, that governments and law enforcement organisations, assisted by healthcare professionals, establish mechanisms to improve understanding of the medical consequences surrounding the use of conducted energy devices such as Tasers and other less lethal technologies. The systematic capture of medically relevant data from operational incidents is a vital step in this process,” they say.