Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Tasers Kill Pigs

Taser International has to hate this study and this study. They find that serious heart arrhythmias and death can result in pigs from taser user resembling police tasing techniques. Taser International says that the study isn't relevant to humans as it involved pigs under 100lbs, but one of the studies cites using pigs up to ~140lbs. Additionally, pig models have been used toward developing both defibrillators and pacemakers, devices used regularly in humans.

From a news story about the findings:

Taser stun guns may not be as safe as their manufacturer claims, according to a study carried out by Chicago researchers, CBC News has learned.

The team of doctors and scientists at the trauma centre in Chicago's Cook County hospital stunned 11 pigs with Taser guns in 2006, hitting their chests with 40-second jolts of electricity, pausing for 10 to 15 seconds, then hitting them for 40 more seconds.

When the jolts ended, every animal was left with heart rhythm problems, the researchers said. Two of the animals died from cardiac arrest, one three minutes after receiving a shock.

The findings call into question safety claims made by Taser International, the Arizona company that makes the stun guns, which are used by dozens of police departments across Canada. ...

But Bob Walker, one of the lead researchers on the Chicago study, said the fact that one of the pigs died three minutes after being stunned is significant.

"It says that the effect of the Taser shot can last beyond the time when it's being delivered," he said. "So, after the Taser shock ends, there can still be effects that can be evoked and you can still see cardiac effects."

And this bit from Taser International's director is rich:

Taser director Mark Kroll has also published a paper called Safety of Taser Electronic Devices, in which he says when electricity kills, it is an immediate death that occurs within four seconds because electricity can't linger in a living being's body "like a poison."
Is he really asserting that sustained or delayed injuries at the molecular, cellular, or gross anatomical levels can't result from an electrical insult? I'd love to know the detailed thought process behind his hypothesis. Hopefully, it's more in-depth than the poison analogy.