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An Evidence-Based Approach To Electrical Injuries In Children (Trauma CME)

September 2013

Abstract

Electrical injuries, while uncommon, can be associated with significant morbidity and mortality. In children, the injuries tend to occur in the household; in adolescents, they are most often associated with misguided youthful exploration outside the home. Injuries in adults are primarily occupational and due to workplace accidents. Electrical injuries are categorized by their electrical source and can result from low-voltage, high-voltage, lightning strike, or electrical arc exposure. The injury can range from minor to life threatening, and they can cause multisystem complications. High-voltage electrical exposures usually cause severe burns, whereas victims of lightning strikes may have no obvious physical injury but may present in cardiopulmonary arrest. Strategies to prevent electrical injuries have been developed and should be discussed with families and healthcare providers to reduce the incidence of these injuries in children. This review highlights the current literature related to the evaluation and management of children with electrical injuries presenting to the emergency department.

Key words: pediatric electrical injuries, electrical burns, high-voltage burns, low-voltage burns, lightning injuries, arc injury, cardiac complications, electrocution, Taser, oral burns, rhabdomyolysis

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