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Excessive use of force by police: a survey of academic emergency physicians
  1. H R Hutson1,
  2. D Anglin2,
  3. P Rice3,
  4. D N Kyriacou4,
  5. M Guirguis5,
  6. J Strote6
  1. 1
    Department of Emergency Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  2. 2
    Department of Emergency Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA
  3. 3
    Department of Emergency Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  4. 4
    Department of Emergency Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  5. 5
    Kaiser Permanente Fontana, Fontana, California, USA
  6. 6
    Division of Emergency Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
  1. Dr J Strote, Division of Emergency Medicine University of Washington Medical Center, Box 356123, 1959 NE Pacific Street, Seattle, WA 98195, USA; strote{at}


Objective: To determine the clinical experience, management and training of emergency physicians in the suspected use of excessive force by law enforcement officers.

Methods: Surveys were mailed to a random sample of academic emergency physicians in the USA.

Results: Of 393 emergency physicians surveyed, 315 (80.2%) responded. Of the respondents, 99.8% (95% CI 98.2% to 100.0%) believed excessive use of force actually occurs and 97.8% (95% CI 95.5% to 99.1%) replied that they had managed patients with suspected excessive use of force. These incidents were not reported by 71.2% (95% CI 65.6% to 76.4%) of respondents, 96.5% (95% CI 93.8% to 98.2%) had no departmental policies and 93.7% (95% CI 90.4% to 96.1%) had not received training in the management of these cases.

Conclusions: Suspected excessive use of force is encountered by academic emergency physicians in the USA. There is only limited training or policies for the management of these cases.

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  • Portions of these data were presented at the 2003 ACEP Scientific Meeting and have been published (Hutson HR, Anglin D, Rice P. Suspected use of excessive physical force by law enforcement officers: a survey of academic emergency physicians. Ann Emerg Med 2003;42:S97–8).

  • Funding: None.

  • Competing interests: None.

  • Ethics approval: This study was approved by the Institutional Review Boards of the first two authors.

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