Background: Conductive energy devices (CEDs) have been temporally associated with morbidity and mortality in police work, but the frequency of use and of complications is not certain.
Methods: This is a literature review using PubMed and Google Scholar searches to identify population-based CED studies, studies reporting morbidity and mortality with CEDs, and studies in healthy volunteers.
Results: Recent studies indicate that CEDs are used approximately 83 to 338 times per million population per year in the United States. The subjects have a typical profile, including young men with belligerent or bizarre behavior who often have a psychiatric disorder or are intoxicated with drugs. The mortality estimates range from 0.0% to 1.4% of subjects controlled with CEDs. Limited information from autopsy studies indicates that death is frequently associated with confounding factors, especially intoxication with illicit drugs.
Conclusions: Conductive energy devices are used frequently during police work and are associated with a low but definite mortality rate. The use of CEDs and the management of at-risk subjects need more study.