Objective: Safety concerns about TASER® Conducted Electrical Weapon (CEW) use and media reports of deaths after exposure have been expressed. CEWs are sometimes used on exhausted subjects to end resistance. The alternative is often a continued struggle. It is unclear if CEW use is metabolically different than allowing a continued struggle. We sought to determine if CEW exposure on exhausted humans caused worsening acidosis when compared with continued exertion. Methods: This was a prospective study of human volunteers recruited during a CEW training course. Volunteers were from several different occupations and represented a wide range of ages and body mass index characteristics. Medical histories, baseline pH and lactate values were obtained. Patients were assigned to one of four groups: 2 control groups consisting of Exertion only and CEW Exposure only, and the 2 experimental groups that were Exertion plus CEW Exposure and Exertion plus additional Exertion. Blood sampling occurred after Exertion and after any CEW exposure. This was repeated every 2-min until 20 min after protocol completion. Descriptive statistics were used to compare the four groups. The experimental groups and the control groups were compared individually at each time point using Wilcoxon rank sum tests. Lactate and pH association was assessed using multiple linear regression. Results: Forty subjects were enrolled. There were no median pH or lactate differences between CEW Exposure groups at baseline, or between Exertion protocol groups immediately after completion. The CEW Exposure only group had higher pH and lower lactate values at all time points after exposure than the Exertion only group. After completing the Exertion protocol, there was no difference in the pH or lactate values between the continued Exertion group and the CEW Exposure group at any time points. Conclusion: Subjects who had CEW Exposure only had higher pH and lower lactate values than subjects who completed the Exertion protocol only. CEW exposure does not appear to worsen acidosis in exhausted subjects any differently than briefly continued exertion.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This was a prospective study of adult volunteers recruited at a TASER International training course in August, 2008. The institutional review board of Hennepin County Medical Center approved the study. All subjects provided informed consent before enrollment. This study received partial funding from TASER International in the form of an unrestricted research grant that covered the cost of phlebotomy and laboratory services. The study sponsor had no role in designing the study, collecting the data, analyzing the data, writing the manuscript or submitting it for publication.
- Conducted Electrical Weapon
- Custodial death
- Electronic control device