May 8, 2008
A court ruling in the United States about Tasers is causing concern in Canada’s medical community.
The U.S.-based manufacturer of the controversial stun guns, Taser International, has won a court order in Ohio that forces a medical examiner to change autopsy reports.
Dr. Lisa Kohler had found that electrical shocks from Tasers were partially to blame for the deaths of three men in separate confrontations with police.
Taser International launched and won a civil suit, forcing Kohler to delete any reference to the deaths being related to electric shocks, and to term them “accidental deaths.”
Dr. Matthew Stanbrook of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) says the decision doesn’t take into account the difficult of determining an exact cause of death in almost every case.
“If we were required to have at the level of scientific and medical certainty that something was the cause of death, before we were permitted to declare it, most of the people who died in North America would have died of unknown causes,” Stanbrook said.
“It is a physician making their best judgment given all the facts available.”
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