Physical Characteristics of Excited Delirium

Legal Compliance Resource
October 14, 2013 — 1,086 views  

Law Enforcement administrators have been confronted by the media with the stellar rise in the number of Sudden In-Custody Death cases over the past year. Most of the time, law enforcement personnel are unaware of what causes these incidents and struggle to find the source of the problem. Excited delirium is one such case which eludes law enforcement personnel as there is a less chance of keeping the offender in restraints as well as preventing them from going in to a cardiac arrest. The number of excited delirium cases have steadily risen and it seems that drug abuse is the only factor that could cause such a state of mind. Law Enforcement Personnel should be aware of the signs and symptoms of Excited Delirium in case they are confronted with such a person.

Signs or Symptoms of Excited Delirium

Excited delirium is a condition in the human body that results in a combination of psychomotor agitation, speech disturbances, violent behavior, and superhuman strength. Male subjects with a history of substance abuse, especially that of cocaine, and mental illness are generally the victims of excited delirium. Law enforcement personnel must be trained to identify such patients beforehand in order to apprehend the suspect. The psychological behavior of a person who has excited delirium includes intense paranoia, rapid emotional changes, hallucinations, and extreme agitation. The communication behaviors includes screaming out loud for no apparent reason, grunting and irrational speech. The physical characteristics include dilated pupils, skin discoloration, profuse sweating, foaming at the mouth, respiratory distress, and high core body temperature.

Phases of Excited Delirium

In almost all cases of excited delirium, there are four noticeable phases that the person will go through: profuse sweating, delirium with agitation, respiratory compromise, and cardiac arrest. This condition is more associated with a brain disorder more than just plain substance abuse. Law enforcement personnel are required to identify the stage in which the victim is in when they arrive on the scene. If the person is sweating a lot and is expressing signs of agitation which includes screaming, then the personnel can safely say that the person has reached the first phase of excited delirium.

Management of Excited Delirium Cases

As most cases with excited delirium, the patient shows signs of superhuman strength which will require the personnel to call for back up immediately in order to subdue the suspect. A team of 5 to 6 law enforcement personnel is required to restrain the individual, one for each of the limbs and one for the head and airway. Police are required to use any physical force necessary in order to take down the person. If the person is showing signs of extreme agitation, the Police are not required to hold back and can use a Taser to bring him/her down. Law enforcement personnel are required to ensure that the victim is controlled and restrained until the medical team arrives on to the scene. It is important to note that the Police can save a life instead of losing one if they are able to get it all right from the start.

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