Wake Forest Study Backs Safety of Tasers

Tasers used by law enforcement personnel are safe and cause few serious injuries, according to a nationwide study being presented today at the American College of Emergency Physicians' Scientific Assembly in Seattle. The event (visit www.acep.org for details) continues through Thursday.

"This study is the first large, independent study of injuries associated with Tasers. It is the first injury epidemiology study to review every Taser deployment and to reliably assess the overall risk and severity of injuries in real-world conditions," said Dr. William Bozeman, the lead investigator and an emergency medicine specialist at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C. "The injury rate is low, and most injuries appear to be minor. These results support the safety of the devices," he said.

Bozeman headed a review of nearly 1,000 cases that found 99.7 percent of those subjected to a Taser had mild injuries, such as scrapes and bruises, or no injury. Only three subjects (0.3 percent) suffered injuries severe enough to need hospital admission: Two sustained head injuries in falls after being hit with the Taser, while the third was admitted two days after arrest with a medical condition that may or may not have been related to the Taser's use. The study found that two subjects died, but autopsy reports indicated neither death was related to the Taser. The study was funded by the National Institute of Justice and included six law enforcement agencies across the United States.

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