Background: Electrical injuries currently remain a worldwide problem. In Turkey, burns are relatively small in number among injuries overall, but they continue to be a major public health problem. Electrical injuries may occur due to high- or low-voltage contact. Injuries due to low voltage usually occur at home. High-voltage injuries are usually work-related and result from a shorter contact, but may cause serious tissue destruction and secondary injuries.
Methods: The objective of this study was to review a medical institution's experience with electrical injuries between 1997-2005. The institution admitted 55 electrical injury cases throughout this period. A computerized burns registry was used for data collection and analysis.
Results: The burn causes differed among age groups and between the sexes, with males constituting 89.1% of the electrical burn patients. Forty-one of the injuries were due to high voltage whereas 14 injuries were due to low voltage. Complications were most common in the high-voltage group. Mean length of stay was longest in this group, at 33.69+/-21.13 days, and the patients in this group also required the most operations.
Conclusion: Work-related activity was responsible for the majority of these high-voltage injuries, with the most common occupations being linemen and electricians. These patients tended to be younger men in the prime of their working lives. Our study underlines the need for stronger efforts aimed at prevention, such as better public education and strict regulations regarding the distribution and use of electricity.