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Studies Examine Medical Consequences of Police Use of Force During Restraint

May 18, 2009

Dr. Jared Strote at the University of Washington Medical Center led a group that examined the medical records of nearly 900 patients subdued by the Seattle Police Department with a Taser over a six-year period. Less than one percent required hospital admission for an injury related to the restraint incident. No deaths occurred, even when patients exhibited signs of excited delirium.

Meanwhile, a separate study led by Dr. Strote looked at every use of force by the Seattle Police Department in one year. Again, despite nearly 900 incidents, injuries related to the use of force were rare. Just over one percent required hospital admission for an injury related to the use of force by police. There were two deaths, both due to firearms.

The researchers conclude that injuries inflicted by police officers in the process of subduing suspects are relatively rare. Other related findings include a high incidence of drug and alcohol use and psychiatric history among those being restrained.

The presentations, entitled “Injuries Associated With Law Enforcement Use Of Conducted Electrical Weapons” and “Injuries Associated With Law Enforcement Use Of Force,” will be presented in the Trauma forum at the 2009 SAEM Annual Meeting at the Sheraton New Orleans on Sunday, May 17 at 10:00 AM. Abstracts are published in Vol. 16, No. 4, Supplement 1, April 2009 of Academic Emergency Medicine, the official journal of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine.

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