Objective: To decide who should be monitored after exposure to household 240 volt 50 Hz alternating current electric shocks.
Design and setting: Records of patients admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of Royal Perth Hospital for the period 1978-1987 were retrospectively reviewed. A literature review was also performed to compare previous findings with our own (Medline search; keywords--electrical injury, arrhythmia).
Results: There were 20 patients in the series, and all patients survived the electric shock. Of the 18 who presented with no cardiovascular symptoms or electrocardiographic abnormalities, none developed arrhythmias while being monitored in the Intensive Care Unit.
Conclusion: Routine cardiac monitoring is not required after electric shock with household alternating current if the patient is asymptomatic and has a normal electrocardiogram on presentation.