Taser safety studies significantly biased from ties to manufacturer

By Eric W. Dolan
Monday, May 9, 2011 19:05 EDT
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Taser safety studies may be biased due to researchers’ ties to the electrical stun guns’ manufacturer, Taser International Inc., according to cardiologists at the University of California, San Francisco.

The cardiologists examined the the accuracy of 50 published studies on the potential dangers of using Taser stun guns and found that the likelihood of a study concluding the devices are safe was 75 percent higher when the studies were either funded by the manufacturer or written by authors connected with the company.

Tasers are the most popular brand of electrical stun guns and are commonly used by law enforcement agencies. Advocates of the stun guns claim the electroshock weapon is a safer alternative to other forms of incapacitating combative suspects, but critics have warned of its potential dangers.

Recently, a New York man in police custody died from “respiratory distress” after he was shot twice with a Taser stun gun.

Of the 50 studies that were investigated, 23 were funded by or affiliated with Taser International. Ninety-six percent of those studies concluded that the stun guns were either “unlikely harmful” or “not harmful.” In comparison, only 55 percent of the 27 studies not affiliated with Taser International concluded that the stun guns were either “unlikely harmful” or “not harmful.”

The findings are not yet published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, but have been submitted for publication.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan has served as an editor for Raw Story since August 2010, and is based out of Sacramento, California. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and received a Bachelor of Science from Bradley University. Eric is also the publisher and editor of PsyPost. You can follow him on Twitter @ewdolan.
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