PMID: 17015871Oct 4, 2006Paper

Narrative review: Electrocution and life-threatening electrical injuries

Annals of Internal Medicine
Christian Spies, Richard G Trohman


The authors reviewed the mechanisms and pathophysiology of typically encountered electrical injuries by searching English-language publications listed in MEDLINE and reference lists from identified articles. They included relevant retrospective studies, case reports, and review articles published between 1966 and 2005. The authors also searched the Internet for information related to electrocution and life-threatening electrical injuries. They found that familiarity with basic principles of physics elucidates the typical injuries sustained by patients who experience electrical shock. Death due to electrocution occurs frequently. However, patients successfully resuscitated after cardiopulmonary arrest often have a favorable prognosis. Approximately 3000 patients who survive electrical shock are admitted to specialized burn units annually. Patients with serious electrical burns admitted to the intensive care unit are trauma patients and should be treated accordingly. Initial prediction of outcome for patients who have experienced electrical shock is difficult, as the full degree of injury is often not apparent.


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