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The health effects of Conducted Energy Weapons

October 24, 2013

cewreport_coverConducted Energy Weapons (CEWs) such as Tasers are 2.7 times more likely to be discharged during a mental health emergency than during a criminal arrest, likely placing individuals experiencing mental health issues at greater risk of injury or death compared to the general population, states a report from the Council of Canadian Academies.

The report, released in mid-October, concludes by stating that mental illness, excited delirium syndrome and sudden in-custody death require further study in order to better determine their relationship with CEWs.

The report on the health effects of CEWs was conducted by an expert panel comprising 14 members with expertise in psychiatry, physiology, research and medicine.

The report aims to answer three main questions:

  1. What is the current state of scientific knowledge about the medical and physiological impacts of CEWs?
  2.  What gaps exist in the current knowledge about these impacts?
  3.  What research is required to close these gaps?

The report found that although CEWs are designed to stimulate motor and sensory nerves to cause incapacitation, the electrical discharge is too brief to stimulate other tissues such as the heart. Puncture wounds are a common result of using CEWs but the evidence on the cardiac effects of CEWs is lacking and more research is needed to determine if CEW exposure can be a primary cause of death.

The following video gives a brief overview of the report:

To view the full report on The Health Effects of Conducted Energy Weapons, visit the Council of Canadian Academies website.

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