Institute for the Prevention of In-Custody Deaths
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D. M. Dawes1; J. Ho2; M. Johnson3; J. Miner2
1. Emergency Department, Lompoc District Hospital, Santa Barbara, CA, USA.
2. Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis, MN, USA.
3. TASER International, Scottsdale, AZ, USA.

Presented at Fourth Mediterranean Emergency Medicine Congress (MEMC IV), Sorento, Italy
ID# W2.100 - Location: Poster Hall (Hilton Sorrento Palace)
Time of Presentation: September 19, 2007 - 2:00 PM
Category: Other

INTRODUCTION: There has been speculation that exposure to the discharge of a CEW may cause an increase in core body temperature, presumably from muscle-tetany induced thermogenesis (rather than a direct current effect). In many cases of sudden in-custody death, especially in cases of the excited delirium syndrome or certain legal and illegal drug toxicities, the subjects are hyperthermic. Since in many hyperthermia phenomena (e.g., heat stroke, drug-induced hyperthermic syndromes), mortality is directly related to temperature and time at that temperature, it is speculated that worsening or prolonging the hyperthermia with a CEW discharge can lead to increased mortality. The objective of this study is to determine whether a CEW discharge causes an increase in core body temperature in non-environmentally stressed resting adults.

METHODS: This was a prospective, un-blinded, observational study of adult human volunteers. Subjects swallowed a telemetric temperature recording capsule and had a data recording device attached to their waists in a fanny-pack pouch. The capsule sampled core body temperature every 15 seconds. After a waiting period of at least 30 minutes for equilibration, the subjects were exposed to a 15-second continuous discharge from the TASER X26® CEW.

RESULTS: A total of 21 exposure subjects were enrolled in the study. There was no change in temperature from one minute before the exposure to one minute, 10 minutes, or 20 minutes after the exposure in the majority of patients. One patient had a 0.2 degree increase at 20 minutes, three patients had a 0.1 degree decrease in temperature at 10 minutes or 20 minutes.

CONCLUSIONS: In summary, our results do not show that a 15-second conducted electrical weapon discharge significantly affects core body temperature in non-environmentally stressed resting adults. While additional studies are needed, our data suggests that theories about conducted electrical weapons contributing to hyperthermia are likely unfounded.

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