As foundation for 'excited delirium' diagnosis cracks, fallout spreads

December 16 2023

Yahoo! News published an article on continuing efforts to discredit and eliminate the use of the phrase 'excited delirium' in law enforcement defense against exaggerated use of force and related police violence accusations. The American College of Emergency Physicians disavowed a key paper that defense arguments relied upon to give it scientific legitimacy, and the College of American Pathologists said it should no longer be cited as a cause of death. According to the coverage: "After George Floyd's 2020 death, which officers blamed on excited delirium, the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association formally rejected it as a medical condition. Then came disavowals from the National Association of Medical Examiners and the emergency physicians' and pathologists' groups this year."

Center for Policing Equity Social Epidemiologist Justin Feldman spoke with the outlet. The following is an excerpt from the article:

Justin Feldman, principal research scientist with the Center for Policing Equity, said that medical examiners need even more pressure and oversight to ensure that they don't find other ways to attribute deaths caused by police restraint to something else.

Only a minority of deaths in police custody now cite excited delirium, he said. Instead, many deaths are being blamed on stimulants, even though fatal cocaine or methamphetamine overdoses are rare in the absence of opioids.

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