Since January this year, KMC has treated 54 persons

The Government Kilpauk Medical College Hospital in the city, the only referral government hospital for burn injuries in the State, of late has been receiving more persons with “electrical burn injuries.”

Since January this year, the Plastic Surgery Department of the hospital has treated 54 persons, including women and children, for such injuries.

As many as 21 of them did not respond to the treatment and succumbed to injuries. During the whole of last year, 50 persons were treated for electrical burn injuries, says V.Jayaraman, head of the department, underscoring the need to pay attention to the electrical safety aspects.

Among those who were brought to the hospital in the last eight months, 44 persons were victims of high-voltage electricity and 10 sustained injuries while dealing with low-voltage supply. Seven patients were women and eight children. Most of the fatalities were owing to injuries sustained while handling electrical equipment or accidentally coming in contact with high-tension wires while working.

The victims were from Chennai, Chengalpet, North and South Arcot, Vellore, Dharmapuri and neighbouring areas.

The injuries occurred when electrical staff workers climbed on transformers without safeguards, or came into contact with live overhead or underground electrical wires.

Electrical staff in local bodies, farmers and those who tried to steal electricity from transformers were among the injured. Some were injured due to short circuit at homes. Children hurt themselves when they put their fingers into open plug sockets.

Dr. Jayaraman said that so far this year the hospital had treated 1,409 patients for burns, including the 54 patients who suffered electrical burn injuries.

“Across the country every year seven million people sustain burn injuries and of this three per cent are victims of electrical burns. But this year's statistics showed that almost four per cent of the victims treated in the hospital had sustained electrical burns,” he said.

Survivors spend nearly two months in the hospital. Many of them lose limbs or suffer irreparable damage to their face.

Prevention possible

“There is a lot of scope for prevention. The Electricity Board should have frequent programmes on safety for its workers. Adopting proper methods to lay cables would prevent such injuries and avoid mortality. Some died when their crowbars hit an underground electrical supply line. Underground cables should go through non-conducting tubes to prevent such accidents,” Dr. Jayaraman said.

Separate building planned

With more patients being treated for burns and complications, the Plastic Surgery department has forwarded a proposal to the State government for a separate building. The Public Works Department has drawn up a plan for the new building which is estimated to cost Rs.2 crore. According to hospital sources the plan is awaiting the government's nod.

The building would include a dedicated wound dressing room besides a larger intensive care unit to cater to the increased demand. In March, the department began conducting training programmes for all doctors to treat burn injuries before they are referred to a tertiary care centre.

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R. SujathaJune 28, 2012