Dr. Douglas Zipes’ Article Published in the American Heart Association’s “Circulation” Journal & TASER Safety

BACKGROUND:

Dr. Douglas Zipes recently had a case series publish in one of the American Heart Association’s journals called, Circulation

Zipes’ article is not a position paper by the American Heart Association.  A case study or even a case series should report interesting associations and novel curiosities of medicine based on uncontrolled and anecdotal observations.  His article provides observational data from a series of 8 cases provided to him in his disclosed role as a plaintiff’s expert during litigation of these cases.  He does not conclude that these cases reveal a fundamental flaw in the design of the devices.

STATEMENT:

  • “The article is clearly self-serving as Dr. Zipes’ primary interest in this area is being a plaintiff’s expert witness who has been paid $1,200 per hour – more than $500,000 total to testify against police and TASER.”
  • “One example of Dr Zipes’ bias is his omission of important facts that contradict his agenda.  For example in his case #4, video clearly showed that the officer missed the subject.  Scanning electron microscopy of the probes also confirmed that no current was delivered through the wires to the subject.  There are key facts that contradict the role of the TASER device in all of these cited cases, and Dr. Zipes has conveniently omitted all facts that contradict his opinion, but this case most clearly demonstrates his lack of objectivity and scientific rigor.”
  • “There have been 3 million uses of TASER device worldwide with this case series reporting 8 of concern.  This article does not support a cause-effect association & fails to accurately evaluate the risks versus the benefits of the thousands of lives saved by police with TASER devices.”

TASER SAFETY

The American Medical Association issued a White (Position) Paper on TASER safety in June 2009 that states:

  • “Most studies undertaken by law enforcement agencies (and others) indicate that deploying CEDs relative to other use-of-force options, such as pepper spray, physical force, police dogs, and batons, reduces injuries to officers and suspects and reduces the use of lethal force.”
  • “Furthermore, no evidence of dysrhythmia or myocardial ischemia is apparent, even when the barbs are positioned on the thorax and cardiac apex.

Clearly Dr. Zipes has a strong financial incentive based on his career as an expert witness, which might help explain why he disagrees with the findings of independent medical examiners with no pecuniary interest in these cases as well as the U.S. Department of Justice’s independent study that concluded: 

  • “There is currently no medical evidence that CEDs pose a significant risk for induced cardiac dysrhythmia in humans when deployed reasonably.”
  •  “The risks of cardiac arrhythmias or death remain low and make CEDs more favorable than other weapons.”

There are critical statements in this three-year study called, Study of Deaths Following Electro Muscular Disruption, in which a panel of experts examined why individuals died after exposure to a TASER device (aka CED) during encounters with law enforcement.  The panel, selected in collaboration with the College of American Pathologists, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Association of Medical Examiners, reviewed nearly 300 cases to determine whether CEDs contributed to or were the primary cause of death.

The panel found that while in some cases the possibility that the direct effects of a CED can be lethal cannot be excluded, the risk of death due to the electrical effects of a CED has not been conclusively demonstrated and that caution should be used when interpreting the inclusion of a CED on a death certificate or the classification of the manner of death as a homicide as an absolute indictment of the CED as the sole or primary reason for the death.

The panel found that from a medical perspective, law enforcement need not refrain from using CEDs, provided the devices are used in accordance with accepted national guidelines and appropriate policy.  The use of a CED on potentially at-risk individuals should be minimized or avoided unless the situation excludes other reasonable options.  It is critical to minimize or avoid multiple or prolonged activations of CEDs to subdue an individual.  However, there may be circumstances where this is required.

The panel members included a cardiologist, an emergency medicine doctor, five medical examiners, and a toxicologist. Consulting specialists were available to the panel as needed and included an anesthesiologist, clinical pathologist, epidemiologist, electrical engineer, neurologist, and psychiatrist.

2 Responses to “Dr. Douglas Zipes’ Article Published in the American Heart Association’s “Circulation” Journal & TASER Safety”

  1. James says:

    “Clearly Dr. Zipes has a strong financial incentive based on his career as an expert witness, which might help explain why he disagrees with the findings of independent medical examiners with no pecuniary interest in these cases as well as the U.S. Department of Justice’s independent study that concluded: ….”

    Clearly, this scientist has a strong financial incentive. CLEARLY. But the company that makes these things DEFINITELY doesn’t. Oh no. Taser only wants to HELP people. Money couldn’t be their first and foremost interest – that would be WRONG.

  2. Eto says:

    Even a little bit of tuohght would tell you that shooting at the chest might, just MIGHT, put the shock probes across the heart. Which, again, might, just MIGHT, cause an “adverse cardiac event.”Ya think?But then again, if you weren’t where you shouldn’t oughta be in the first place, being belligerant to an “only one” in the second place, you wouldn’t get Tasered in the third place.Get the hint?B WoodmanIII-per

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