Lightning Injuries

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Lightning injuries occur when a person gets struck by lightning. Lightning produces an electric current that can pass through your body and damage nerves and organs.

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:

Even with treatment, you may still have long-term problems caused by lightning injury. These problems may include memory problems, vision problems, or movement problems. Without treatment, the problems caused by lightning injury may worsen or become permanent.

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.

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.

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.

Medicines:

  • Alkalinizing medicine: These medicines help decrease high amounts of acid in your blood and urine caused by muscle injury.

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.

  • Diuretics: These medicines decrease swelling in your body. You may urinate more often when you take diuretics.

  • Medicines to treat pain, swelling, or fever: These medicines are safe for most people to use. However, they can cause serious problems when used by people with certain medical conditions. Tell caregivers if you have liver or kidney disease or a history of bleeding in your stomach.

  • Other medicines: You may need to take medicine to treat other medical problems caused by lightning. These problems may include low blood pressure, seizures, or problems with your heart, kidneys, or muscles.

Tests:

  • Blood and urine tests: Samples of your blood and urine are tested for signs of organ damage.

  • X-rays: Caregivers use x-rays to check for damage to your bones.

  • CT scan: This test is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray uses a computer to take pictures of your head or other parts of your body. You may be given a dye before the pictures are taken to help caregivers see the pictures better. Tell caregivers if you are allergic to iodine or shellfish. You may also be allergic to the dye.

  • MRI: This scan uses powerful magnets and a computer to take pictures of your body. Your caregiver may use this test to check for damage to your brain or other parts of your body. You may be given dye to help the pictures show up better. Tell caregivers if you are allergic to iodine or shellfish. You may also be allergic to the dye. Do not enter the MRI room with anything made of metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell caregivers if you have any metal in or on your body.

  • 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.

  • Blood gases: This is also called an arterial blood gas, or ABG. Blood is taken from an artery (blood vessel) in your wrist, arm, or groin. Your blood is tested for the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in it. The results can tell caregivers how well your lungs are working.

  • 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.

Treatment:

  • Oxygen: You may need extra oxygen to help you breathe easier. It may be given through a plastic mask over your mouth and nose. It may be given through a nasal cannula, or prongs, instead of a mask. A nasal cannula is a pair of short, thin tubes that rest just inside your nose.

  • Ventilator: This is a machine that gives you oxygen and breathes for you when you cannot breathe well on your own. A tube is put into your airway through your mouth, nose, or an incision in your neck. The ventilator gives you oxygen through the tube.

  • Surgery, wound care, and other procedures: Surgery and other treatment may be needed if you have burns, wounds, or other injuries.

  • Therapy: A physical therapist and an occupational therapist may exercise your arms, legs, and hands. They may also teach you new ways to do things around the house. A speech therapist may work with you to help you talk or swallow.

© 2014 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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