In the US, police, security guards, and others carry stun guns and tazers as supposedly non lethal means of controling those who could be dangerous to themselves of others. Most of us in health care know that they are not so innocuous, and that their use can be fatal.
When a shock of any kind is delivered to the person, and the person's heart happens to be at its refractory period, during the EKG "T wave" we call this an "R on T phenomenon". In R on T, the heart is forced to beat during its rest period, and what follows is disorganized non productive beats, called Ventricular Tachycardia. When a person goes into V-Tach. they either receive expert medical help and an AED pretty quickly, or they die. We need to understand that stun guns are not always a safe means of controlling someone.
Teen struck by Ohio campus officer's stun gun dies
CINCINNATI (AP) — Police say an 18-year-old attending summer classes at the University of Cincinnati was struck by a campus officer's stun gun and died of cardiac arrest.
Officers received a 911 call about an assault at Turner Hall early Saturday. The university's assistant police chief, Jeff Corcoran, tells The Cincinnati Enquirer (http://bit.ly/q3FIuz ) that the teenage boy approached officers in the dorm hallway, appearing agitated and angry.
Corcoran says officers ordered the teen to back off, but he refused. He was then hit once by an officer's stun gun.
Afterward, the teen appeared incoherent. He went into cardiac arrest after paramedics arrived and was pronounced dead at University Hospital.
The department has suspended the use of stun guns until his cause of death is determined. Authorities are also investigating the original 911 call.
Information from: The Cincinnati Enquirer, http://www.enquirer.com
Update: May 1, 2012
This article also mirrors my post above.
The study was published April 30 in the journal Circulation.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about sudden cardiac arrest.