Conductive Energy Devices: A Review of Use and Deaths in the United States

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Abstract

Background

Conductive energy devices (CEDs) have been temporally associated with morbidity and mortality in police work, but the frequency of use and of complications is not certain.

Methods

This is a literature review using PubMed and Google Scholar searches to identify population-based CED studies, studies reporting morbidity and mortality with CEDs, and studies in healthy volunteers.

Results

Recent studies indicate that CEDs are used approximately 83 to 338 times per million population per year in the United States. The subjects have a typical profile, including young men with belligerent or bizarre behavior who often have a psychiatric disorder or are intoxicated with drugs. The mortality estimates range from 0.0% to 1.4% of subjects controlled with CEDs. Limited information from autopsy studies indicates that death is frequently associated with confounding factors, especially intoxication with illicit drugs.

Conclusions

Conductive energy devices are used frequently during police work and are associated with a low but definite mortality rate. The use of CEDs and the management of at-risk subjects need more study.

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