Electrocution or electrical injuries can be among the most severe experienced. There are many different ways that the mishandling of electrical power can cause injury or death. In many cases the injuries occur because some third party such as the power company or an electrical contractor or a home builder was negligent.
- Low-voltage electrical injury without cardiac and/or respiratory arrest: This situation is encountered frequently in children who bite extension cords. The burns of the mouth are often severe and require extensive plastic revision. However, systemic problems are infrequent.
- Low-voltage electrical injury with cardiac and/or respiratory arrest: These patients often are not transported to the ED since they are pronounced dead at the scene. If they are transported to the ED and if CPR has been prompt and effective, they may completely recover, usually with no apparent injury. Unfortunately, as with lightning, protracted periods without brain perfusion result in permanent brain damage.
- High-voltage injury: Generally, patients who have been in high-voltage circuits do not arrest but have extensive injuries from burns and are at risk of acute and chronic problems from myoglobinuria. Electrical burns from high-voltage circuits generally are much worse than they appear in the ED.