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Electrocution injuries are injuries to the body as a result of a severe electrical shock. The type of current determines the extent of injuries and the pathway the electricity passes through the body has an effect on the extent of injuries from electrocution. The amount of voltage used in the electrical source and the duration of contact with the electricity has an impact on the degree of injury. Electrocution is possible using direct contact with the electrical wire, a flash or arc injury that occurs when you're in close contact with an electrical source and flame from the electricity (regardless of type of injury) can all cause injury to a person who comes in contact with electricity.

When a person gets the right kind of electrocution injury, you can get injury to the heart that results in asystole (a flat line) or ventricular fibrillation (a chaotic rhythm to the heart). Both can cause a condition where the heart fails to adequately pump blood around the body. Low voltage AC electricity is more likely to cause ventricular fibrillation and high voltage AC or DC voltage is more likely to lead to asystole. You can be resuscitated from both of these rhythms using a defibrillator if one is readily available and you can get to the individual quickly. There can also be direct damage to the heart muscle from contact with electricity.

The lungs are not often damaged by electricity because they conduct electricity poorly. The problem comes when the electrical shock causes tetany (freezing up) of the chest wall muscles so that there is respiratory arrest due to lack of ability to move the chest wall. Respiratory arrest can also occur when the part of the brain that controls breathing is damaged directly by electrocution.

Central nervous system injury is usually a result of blunt trauma to the brain. People who get electrocuted often fall from high places or are thrown clear of the electrical source. You need to assume the possibility of a spinal cord injury until it is ruled out by x-ray. You can damage the spinal cord directly, especially if the course of the electricity is from one hand to the other. There may be a loss of consciousness, amnesia or confusion related to the event. You can have long term consequences of central nervous system injury including a secondary seizure disorder, psychiatric problems, delayed injury to the spinal cord, or damage to peripheral nerves from electrical injury.

Muscle injury is a common problem in electrocution injuries. You can get prolonged muscle tetany that causes secondary rhabdomyolysis and kidney failure. You can suffer a fracture from a fall or from being thrown from the source of the electricity. Compartment syndrome can occur from swelling of the extremities following the injury.

Skin and other soft tissues are often severely affected by electrocution. Skin burns can be severe and are worse at the site of the contact with the electricity and where the electricity leaves the body. Severe burns need to be treated at a burn centre because it is not always clear the degree of soft tissue injury. Complications include the need for skin grafting and loss of soft tissue beneath the skin.

The ear drums (tympanic membranes) are often ruptured in an electrocution injury. About six percent of those who are victims of electrocution go on to develop cataracts that might not occur until months after the electrocution event. It happens more commonly when the injury is near the head area.

Multiple organ damage and failure are possible around the time of an electrocution injury. This can include liver damage and kidney damage. The extent of the injuries is usually not clear until several days after the injury.

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Medical Negligence Solicitors

Our personal injury solicitors operate a specialist medical negligence compensation service. Our Electrocution Injury solicitors deal with claims using a no win no fee arrangement which means that if you don�t win then you don�t pay them their professional costs. If you would like legal advice at no cost with no further obligation just complete the contact form or email our lawyers offices or use the helpline and an Electrocution Injury solicitor will review your medical negligence compensation claim and phone you immediately.

HELPLINE: ☎ 1800 633 634

The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here