• Non-Lethal Weapon Injuries

Non-Lethal Weapon Injuries in the Emergency Department: Mini-Review

"Non-lethal" or "Less-lethal" weapons are becoming more frequently used by law enforcement agencies and knowledge of the associated injuries is useful for emergency medicine providers. Aside from chemical irritants such as "Pepper Spray" and the "Taser" some departments are now using "non-lethal" projectiles. These “bean bag rounds” also known as a “Flexible Baton Rounds” are frequently cased in a shotgun shell, and fired by a standard 12 gauge shotgun. A more broad term for these weapons are “Impact Munitions”. They are designed to stun or temporarily incapacitate a suspect so they can be arrested with less danger to both the suspect and officer. Other options are foam rubber projectiles or wooden dowels.
In 2004 the institute of justice assembled a collection of incident reports to better understand their effect. Over 373 incidents were investigated where 969 projectiles were fired. These incidents were voluntarily submitted by over 100 different law enforcement agencies. Over half of the incidents involved “emotionally disturbed persons” demonstrating suicidal intent, and nearly all were men. They were used more often against suspects wielding cutting weapons or clubs. Suspects were mostly often shot in the abdomen (34%), Chest (19%), and legs (15%). Only 2% were shot in the head, and 1% in the groin. 80% of impact munitions discharged resulted in “injury”. 80% of these injures were bruising and abrasion that did not require medical treatment. Eight individuals were killed by the munitions and two additional deaths resulted from officers mistakenly firing real bullets, believing them to be impact rounds. The resulting mortality was found to be 2.7%. Three of the deaths occurred from broken ribs that “pierced the heart or lungs”. Mechanism of other deaths or serious injuries was not reported. Distance was [...]

By |April 25th, 2013|Residency|0 Comments