Electric Shock - Treatment
When an electric current passes through the body, the damage it does depends on the intensity of the current (amperes, milliamperes, or microamperes), the resistance of the tissues it passes through, the kind of current (alternating current, direct current, or mixed), and the frequency and duration of current flow.
Electric shock may cause ventricular fibrillation, respiratory paralysis, burns, and death. The prognosis depends on the site and extent of damage, the patient's state of health, and the speed and adequacy of treatment. Each year, about 1,000 persons in the United States die of electric shock.
Electric shock usually follows accidental contact with exposed parts of electrical appliances or wiring, but it may also result from lightning or the flash of electric arcs from high-voltage power lines or machines.
The increased use of electrical medical devices in the hospital, many of which are connected directly to the patient, has raised serious concern for electrical safety and has led to the development of electrical safety standards. However, even well-designed equipment with reliable safety features can cause electric shock if it's mishandled.
Signs and symptoms
The typical symptoms of an electric shock include:
Diagnosis relies on gathering information about the circumstances of the accident, a thorough physical examination , and monitoring of cardiovascular and kidney activity. The victim's neurological condition can fluctuate rapidly and requires close observation. A computed tomography scan (CT scan) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be necessary to check for brain injury.
Immediate emergency treatment includes carefully separating the victim from the current source, quickly assessing vital functions, and instituting emergency measures, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation.
To separate the victim from the current source, immediately turn it off or unplug it. If this isn't possible, pull the victim free with a nonconductive device, such as a loop of dry cloth or rubber, a dry rope, or a leather belt.
Then begin emergency treatment as follows.
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