Electrical Injuries Overview
Electrical injury occurs when an electric current runs through a portion of the body, usually from either a man-made source or lightning. The outside of the person’s body may appear to have only minor injuries, but internal injuries may still be significant. As current enters the body (source), it causes surface to deep burns, damages muscle and organs as it passes through the body, and eventually exits at another distant point (ground), which causes a second burn or wound. The electrical current may trigger irregular heartbeat or stop the heart entirely.
Among man-made sources, direct current (DC) tends to throw people from the source after one shock. Alternating current (AC) is more dangerous. AC causes muscle spasms that often prolong contact with the power source, which increases the extent of the injury.
James Kimo Takayesu, MD
N Stuart Harris, MD, MFA
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
Michael E Zevitz, MD