TASER Barb Removal
Purpose: EMS personnel may be requested to assess patients after TASER deployment, and/or to remove TASER barbs lodged in someone’s skin. This procedure has been approved for Paramedic-, Intermediate-, and Basic-Level EMS providers. Be aware that secondary injuries may result from falls sustained after the device has been deployed. Subjects should not be dazed or confused following device deployment. The patient may require additional restraint as defined in the Medical Direction Team’s Policy and Procedure section.
Assessing Patients Following TASER Deployment:
- Confirm that the TASER has been shut off and the barb cartridge has been disconnected from the TASER device.
- Obtain vital signs at the earliest opportunity. Reasons for violent and combative behavior include intoxication, psychosis, hypoxia, hypoglycemia, overdose, or CNS infection. Obtain pulse oximetry, capnography, lead II ECG, and capillary blood glucose levels as soon as it is feasible. Treat trauma and seizure, if applicable.
- Evaluate the anatomical location of the barb’s puncture zone(s). High-risk/sensitive zones will require transport to a medical facility for removal. Do not attempt to remove the barb(s) if they are lodged in the:
- Eyes, ears, nose, mouth, face, or neck;
- Hands, feet, or joints.
- Utilize appropriate PPE (gloves.) Inform all caregivers of the intent to remove the contaminated sharp.
- Remove one barb at a time. Stabilize the skin surrounding the TASER barb. Firmly grasp the barb and with one smooth hard jerk, remove barb from patient’s skin.
- Visually examine the barb tip to ensure it is fully intact. If any part of the barb remains in the subject, transport the patient to a medical facility for removal.
- The TASER barb is considered a sharp and EMS personnel should take all precautions to avoid accidental needle sticks when removing barbs.
- Ensure the barb is placed in an appropriate container and return the barb/container to the law enforcement officer for evidence.
- Provide wound care by cleansing the affected area with antiseptic and cover with an adhesive bandage.
- Inform subject of basic wound care and the need to seek additional care in the event that signs of infection occur (redness-pain-drainage-swelling-fever.) The subject will need a tetanus shot if he or she has not received one within the previous 5 years.
- The subject must be transported to the hospital if he or she meets any of the following criteria:
- Barb lodged in any of the above listed sensitive areas;
- Subject has a previous cardiac history;
- Subject appears intoxicated;
- Subject is non-compliant to direct instructions;
- Subject meets criteria for other BioTel protocol(s) requiring transport (e.g., chest pain, altered mental status, electrical injury, age greater than 65 etc.)
- Complete medical documentation is required whether or not EMS transports the subject.
- If emergency department evaluation is necessary, transport to the closest appropriate hospital.