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April 1944

FATALITIES ASSOCIATED WITH ELECTRIC SHOCK TREATMENT OF PSYCHOSESREPORT OF TWO CASES, WITH AUTOPSY OBSERVATIONS IN ONE OF THEM

Author Affiliations

CENTRAL ISLIP, N. Y.

Arch NeurPsych. 1944;51(4):397-402. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1944.02290280095006
Abstract

A small number of deaths due to electric shock have been reported in the literature since the introduction of electrotherapy. Kolb and Vogel1 estimated a death rate of 0.05 per cent in 7,207 cases, and Impastato and Almansi,2 a mortality rate of 0.8 per cent in 11,000 cases. As a rule, death is due to a defect in some organ other than the brain—usually the heart—which is aggravated by the convulsive treatment. However, some deaths are completely unexplainable. Impastato and Almansi,2 Ziegler3 and Ebaugh and his associates4 reported cases in which failure of the heart played the deciding role. Cash and Hoekstra5 and Ebaugh and associates4 recorded fatalities in cases in which curare was given before the electric convulsion. Cash and Hoekstra5 stated that death came suddenly, about two hours after the treatment, and was probably of cardiac origin. Ebaugh and associates

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