Pathophysiologic changes due to TASER® devices versus excited delirium: potential relevance to deaths-in-custody?

Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine
James R Jauchem


The syndrome of excited delirium has been implicated in some deaths-in-custody which also involved the use of electronic control devices (ECDs) (including those manufactured by TASER International) on subjects. This review is an update on recent studies of pathophysiologic changes related to these two separate but parallel topics: a) first, the use of ECDs during law-enforcement activities; and b) second, the occurrence of excited delirium during such activities. This is a narrative review of elements that may be of use in generating hypotheses relating to potential similarities or differences between the two topics. Differences between changes in most factors due to excited delirium versus those of ECD applications were not readily apparent in most cases. These factors include: direct and indirect effects on the cardiovascular system, respiration, rhabdomyolysis and muscle enzymes, hyperkalemia, acidosis, hyperglycemia, and increased hematocrit. One factor that may exhibit consistent differences, however, is increased body temperature, which is often evident during excited delirium (versus a lack of increase temperature during ECD exposures). Thus, on the basis of this review, a more detailed delineation of this factor could b...Continue Reading


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