Friday, July 16, 2010

Excited Delirium a Controversial Diagnosis

Both the Hartford Courant and the Middletown Press have reported that the state medical examiner has reported that a Middletown man, Efrain Carrion, died in police custody as a result of "excited delirium."

The diagnosis is a source of controversy.  It has been reported frequently in recent years as a cause of death, but according to Wikipedia: American news outlets NPR and ABC have reported that excited delirium only appears as a cause of death where police are involved in restraining agitated individuals.

The 2007 NPR report focuses on the death of an individual in 2003.

Both an EMT website, and a website devoted to the condition from the University of Miami, Florida, advise that excited delirium is a medical emergency, and should be treated as such, and that inappropriate restraint can exacerbate the problem.

If the Connecticut State Medical Examiner's Office knows enough about the condition to cite it as a cause of death, it seems incumbent upon that office, the State Health Department and the State Department of Public Safety to provide guidelines and training to police, fire and emergency responders about the condition and how to handle it.   For the safety of emergency responders, and for the individuals suffering from excited delirium, these guidelines and associated training should be offered before another death or injury occurs.

In addition, these departments should conduct a thorough investigation into the role of Tasers in escalating conditions and symptoms in the case of excited delirium.

Without knowledge of the condition, and training to handle it, police and other responders are put in jeopardy. 


Anonymous said...

Without knowledge of the condition
isn't it really the victim that is in jeopardy?

Anonymous said...

According to the NPR article, the following organizations do not consider "Excited Delirium" an actual, scientific diagnosis:

American Medical Association
American Psychological Association
International Association of Chiefs of Police

I do not understand how we can legally allow our state examiners and coroners to use a dubious diagnosis which has not been accepted by leading medical organizations.