Electrical injury


An electrical injury is damage to the skin or internal organs when a person comes into direct contact with an electrical current.

Alternative Names

Electrical shock


The human body conducts electricity very well. That means electricity passes easily throughout the body. Direct contact with electrical current can be deadly. While some electrical burns look minor, there may be serious internal damage, especially to the heart, muscles, or brain.

Electric current can cause injury in four ways:


Electrical injury can be caused by:


Symptoms depend on many things, including:

Symptoms may include:

First Aid

Do Not

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call 911 or the local emergency number, if a person has been injured by electricity.



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Price LA, Loiacono LA. Electrical injury and lightning injury. In: Cameron JL, Cameron AM, eds. Current Surgical Therapy. 14th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2023:1433-1442.

Sheridan RL. Medical aspects of trauma and burns. In: Goldman L, Cooney KA, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 27th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2024:chap 97.

Review Date: 11/2/2023
Reviewed By: Jesse Borke, MD, CPE, FAAEM, FACEP, Attending Physician at Kaiser Permanente, Orange County, CA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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