Electrical Burns In Adults

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Electrical Burns In Adults (Inpatient Care) Care Guide

Electrical burns are injuries that are caused by an electric current. The electric current can pass through your body and cause damage to tissues or organs. An electric current may also jump from an electrical source to you and burn your body.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

Bandage changes may be painful. Your scars may itch or become thick and raised. Surgery to remove dead tissue may cause infection and put you at risk of bleeding. If you had a skin graft, your skin may not heal completely, or it may become infected. Without treatment, your burn may become infected. You may also have increased pain.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

A Foley catheter

is a tube put into your bladder to drain urine into a bag. Keep the bag below your waist. This will prevent urine from flowing back into your bladder and causing an infection or other problems. Also, keep the tube free of kinks so the urine will drain properly. Do not pull on the catheter. This can cause pain and bleeding, and may cause the catheter to come out. Caregivers will remove the catheter as soon as possible to help prevent infection.

Nasogastric (NG) tube:

An NG tube is put into your nose, and passes down your throat until it reaches your stomach. Food and medicine may be given through an NG tube if you cannot take anything by mouth. The tube may instead be attached to suction if caregivers need to keep your stomach empty.

Medicines:

  • Ointments: These medicines prevent infection and help your burn heal. The ointment may be placed on your skin or may be part of your bandage.

  • Pain medicine: You may be given a prescription medicine to decrease severe pain if other pain medicines do not work. Take the medicine as directed. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine.

  • Td vaccine: This vaccine is a booster shot used to help prevent diphtheria and tetanus. The Td booster may be given to adolescents and adults every 10 years or for certain wounds and injuries.

Monitoring:

  • Intake and output: Caregivers will keep track of the amount of liquid you are getting. They also may need to know how much you are urinating. Ask how much liquid you should drink each day. Ask caregivers if they need to measure or collect your urine.

  • Neurologic exam: This is also called neuro signs, neuro checks, or neuro status. A neurologic exam can show caregivers how well your brain works after an injury or illness. Caregivers will check how your pupils (black dots in the center of each eye) react to light. They may check your memory and how easily you wake up. Your hand grasp and balance may also be tested.

  • Pulse oximeter: A pulse oximeter is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on your finger, ear, or toe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine. Never turn the pulse oximeter or alarm off. An alarm will sound if your oxygen level is low or cannot be read.

  • CVP line: A CVP line is also called a central line. It is an IV catheter or tube. It is put into a large blood vessel near your collarbone, in your neck, or in your groin. The groin is the area where your abdomen meets your upper leg. The CVP line may be used to give medicines or IV fluids. It may also be hooked up to a monitor to take pressure readings. This information helps caregivers check your heart.

Tests:

You may be given dye before some of the following tests to help the pictures show up better. Tell caregivers if you are allergic to iodine or seafood. You may also be allergic to the dye.

  • Blood and urine tests: You may need blood or urine tests to check for damage to your muscles, heart, and other organs.

  • ECG: This is also called an EKG. An ECG is done to check for damage or problems in your heart. A short period of electrical activity in your heart is recorded.

  • CT scan: This test is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray uses a computer to take pictures of your brain. Your caregiver may do this test to check for signs of brain injury after you have electrical burns.

  • MRI: This scan uses powerful magnets and a computer to take pictures of your head or other body parts. An MRI may be used to look at your brain, muscles, joints, bones, or blood vessels. Do not enter the MRI room with any metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell caregivers if you have any metal in or on your body.

  • Scintigraphy: Scintigraphy may help your caregiver find dead tissue in your body and decide how much should be removed.

Treatment:

You may need to go to a special treatment center for people with burns. Your burns will be bandaged to keep the area moist and clean. Caregivers will monitor your condition to see if you are improving or need other treatments.

  • Fluids: If you need more fluid in your body, your caregiver may give you fluids through an IV. These fluids may contain protein, salt water, minerals, or glucose (sugar).

  • Surgery:

    • Debridement: Caregivers remove damaged tissue from your body to prevent infection, decrease inflammation, and improve your healing.

    • Skin grafts and flaps: Caregivers cover or replace lost skin with healthy skin. A graft can help close your wounds, prevent infection, and decrease scarring. Skin flap surgery is done to fix large wounds that cannot be covered by skin grafting. A skin flap is skin and tissue near the wound that is used to cover the wound area. Skin flaps may improve the appearance of your skin.

    • Escharotomy: Caregivers make an incision through dead tissue into the fat layer below. This surgery helps relieve pressure caused by swelling and improves blood flow.

    • Fasciotomy: Caregivers release pressure that is caused by swollen muscles from the burn. You may be less likely to have more damage to your nerves, tissue, or organs.

© 2013 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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