Neuromuscular incapacitating devices, colloquially known as ‘tasers’, are typically used by police and security personnel as a non-lethal way to subdue combative assailants. Unfortunately, there are times in the hospital when patients can become assailants, thus potentially necessitating the use of tasers to ensure the safety of staff and other patients. Tasers come in several varieties. However, those typically used by law enforcement have a 50,000-V capacity and deliver 0.36 - 1.76 Joules of energy per pulse, at a rate of ~20 pulses per second, via two barbed projections. This leads to incapacitation of the assailant via the induction of fused muscle contractions that preclude coordinated neuromuscular inputs, thus inducing a near-tetanic state. In medicine, we often use electricity in a coordinated manner to convert dangerous cardiac arrhythmias back to normal sinus rhythm. In this case, we discuss how a patient who was admitted to the hospital in a sustained arrhythmia, became an assailant. A taser was used to subdue him, and we will examine how this theoretically may have impacted his arrhythmia.
Naro, MD, MEd, Gillian; Upadhyay, MD, Naman; Thompson, MD, Emilie; and Sturzoiu, MD, Tudor
"Shocked But Not Surprised: The Philly Cardioversion,"
The Medicine Forum: Vol. 23, Article 10.
Available at: https://jdc.jefferson.edu/tmf/vol23/iss1/10