TASER Barb Removal
Purpose: Law enforcement personnel may request a medical assessment after TASER deployment, and/or to
have EMS personnel remove TASER barbs lodged in someone’s skin. All EMS providers in the BioTel system
may utilize this procedure. Be aware that TASER deployment may result in falls that can produce secondary
injuries; however, they do not normally produce altered mental status. The patient may require additional restraint
as defined in the Restraint of Patient policy.
Assessing Patients Following TASER Deployment:
- Confirm that the officer deactivated the TASER and disconnected the barb cartridge 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 intact. If any part of the barb remains in the subject, transport the patient to a medical facility for removal.
- EMS personnel should take all precautions to avoid accidental needle sticks when removing barbs.
- Place the barb 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.