Approximately 1000 people are estimated to die from exposure to electricity in the USA each year1. In 2005, a total of 35 deaths were attributed to ‘electric current’ in the UK2. The true figure may be considerably higher. A small proportion of community cardiac arrests may be erroneously attributed to ‘natural causes’ rather than unwitnessed fatal electrocution.

Similarly, falls from scaffolding during building construction may be wrongly attributed to a mechanical trip rather than electrical shock. A study conducted in the state of Florida rigorously investigated possible electrical deaths. Investigators discovered that the incidence of electrocution was 50 % greater than the average reported incidence in the rest of the country3.

Morbidity from electrical injury can be severe, particularly in the context of thermal injury. Electrical injuries are estimated to be responsible for 3-5 % of admissions to burns units.