Which clinical history findings are characteristics of low-voltage alternating current (AC) injury?

Updated: Mar 09, 2020
  • Author: Tracy A Cushing, MD, MPH, FACEP, FAWM; Chief Editor: Joe Alcock, MD, MS  more...
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Answer

These injuries are exposures of less than 1000V and usually occur in the home or office setting. Typically, children with electrical injuries present after biting or chewing on an electrical cord and suffer oral burns. Adults working on home appliances or electrical circuits can also experience these electrical injuries. Low-voltage AC may result in significant injury if there is prolonged, tetanic muscle contraction.

Low-voltage AC injury with loss of consciousness and/or arrest

In respiratory arrest or ventricular fibrillation that is not witnessed, an electrical exposure may be difficult to diagnose. All unwitnessed arrests should include this possibility in the differential diagnosis. Query EMS personnel, family, and coworkers about this possibility. Inquire if a scream was heard before the patient’s collapse; this may be due to involuntary contraction of chest wall muscles from electrical current.


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