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Electrical injury

  • Definition

    An electrical injury is damage to the skin or internal organs when a person comes into direct contact with an electrical current.


    Alternative Names

    Electrical shock


    Considerations

    The human body conducts electricity very well. That means, electricity passes very easily throughout the body. Direct contact with electrical current can be deadly. While some electrical burns look minor, there still may be serious internal damage, especially to the heart, muscles, or brain.

    Electric current can cause injury in three ways:

    • Cardiac arrest due to the electrical effect on the heart
    • Muscle, nerve, and tissue destruction from a current passing through the body
    • Thermal burns from contact with the electrical source

    Causes
    • Accidental contact with exposed parts of electrical appliances or wiring
    • Flashing of electric arcs from high-voltage power lines
    • Lightning
    • Machinery or occupational-related exposures
    • Young children biting or chewing on electrical cords, or poking metal objects into an electrical outlet