Steve Watson
Wednesday, May 28, 2008

It’s not often you hear about a Taser stun affecting a person’s health in a positive way, however, fresh reports from doctors of just such a occurrence have provided more evidence that the so called "less than lethal" weapons do affect the heart of those they are used on.

Doctors at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut have reported that a shock from a Taser may have caused a man’s irregular heart back into a healthy rhythm.

Dr. Kyle Richards, a cardiologist at the hospital related the story to Reuters that a patient, admitted to the hospital after jumping in a very cold lake whilst fleeing from police, was shocked with a taser after becoming combative during treatment. The doctors at the hospital believe that the shock corrected an irregular heart rhythm known as atrial fibrillation.

"This is the first report of a patient receiving a shock of this kind and having a positive outcome," Richards said.

After commenting that studies done in pigs show the weapon can affect the heart muscle, Dr. Richards told reporters "It’s just one more thing that says, hey, Tasers can actually affect the heart."

Last week two prominent heart doctors told an ongoing Canadian inquiry that there is no doubt that Taser stun guns can cause heart problems and even induce sudden and lethal cardiac arrest.

A cardiologist and a heart surgeon both stated that based on their own studies of the literature on the weapons, it is clear that they can induce ventricular fibrillation.

Earlier this month doctors condemned as corporate "intimidation" a court decision ordering a chief medical examiner to remove any reference to the use of a taser as an antecedent in the deaths of three men.

Taser International filed and won a civil suit, forcing deletion all mentions of the weapons in the autopsy reports and requiring the deaths be termed "accidental".

In the past week Taser International has won three more lawsuits contending that the weapon was a principle cause of wrongful death or injury. This now brings the total amount of cases that have been either dismissed or won by Taser International to 70.

No judge has yet ruled against the stun gun manufacturer, which maintains the weapons do not affect the heart or the nervous system, despite medical testimony to the contrary, and according to senior police officers instructs that the exact opposite is true.

The UN’s Committee Against Torture disagrees with Taser International, and back in November last year issued a statement on the TaserX26, which read: "The use of TaserX26 weapons, provoking extreme pain, constituted a form of torture, and that in certain cases it could also cause death, as shown by several reliable studies and by certain cases that had happened after practical use."

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