Cardiac Fibrillation Risk of Taser Weapons

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Abstract

The debate on potential health hazards associated with delivering electric discharges to incapacitated subjects, in particular on whether electric discharge weapons are lethal, less lethal or non-lethal, is still controversial. The cardiac fibrillation risks of Taser weapons X26 and X3 have been investigated by measuring the delivered high-tension pulses in dependence on load impedance. Excitation thresholds and sinus-to-Taser conversion factors have been determined by numerical modeling of endocardial, myocardial, and epicardial cells. Detailed quantitative assessment of cardiac electric exposure has been performed by numerical simulation at the normal-weighted anatomical model NORMAN. The impact of anatomical variation has been quantified at an overweight model (Visible Man), both with a spatial resolution of 2 × 2 × 2 mm voxels. Spacing and location of dart electrodes were systematically varied and the worst-case position determined. Based on volume-weighted cardiac exposure assessment, the fibrillation probability of the worst-case hit was determined to 30% (Taser X26) and 9% (Taser X3). The overall risk assessment of Taser application accounting for realistic spatial hit distributions was derived from training sessions of police officers under realistic scenarios and by accounting for the influence of body (over-)weight as well as gender. The analysis of the results showed that the overall fibrillation risk of Taser use is not negligible. It is higher at Taser X26 than at Taser X3 and amounts to about 1% for Europeans with an about 20% higher risk for Asians. Results demonstrate that enhancement as well as further reduction of fibrillation risk depends on responsible use or abuse of Taser weapons.

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