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J Burn Care Res. 2019 Jun 21;40(4):427-429. doi: 10.1093/jbcr/irz050.

Electrical Burns During Fruit Harvesting.

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Dewitt Daughtry Department of Surgery Divisions of Trauma, Burns, & Surgical Critical Care, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and Ryder Trauma Center, Miami, Florida.


Electrocutions during tree trimming or fruit harvesting are occasionally reported in the public media, but the actual incidence is unknown. Some fruit trees (eg, mango and avocado) can exceed 30 feet, with dense foliage concealing the fruit and overlying power lines so burns associated with harvesting these fruits are often exacerbated with falls. However, there are limited data on this subject. To fill this gap, we provide some of the first information on this unique injury pattern. All electrocutions from 2013 to 2018 were retrospectively reviewed at an ABA-verified burn center. Demographics, injury patterns, and complications were analyzed. Of 97 electrocutions, 22 (23%) were associated with fruit procurement. This population was aged 43 ± 14 years, 95% (n = 21) male, injury severity score of 15 ± 13, and total body surface area burned 4% [1%-9%]. Third-degree burns were present in 36% (n = 8). ICU admission was required in 59% (n = 13) and 39% of the survivors required operative interventions for the burn. Compartment syndrome occurred in 18% (n = 4) and 14% (n = 3) patients required amputations. Falls complicated the care in 50% (n = 11), with associated head, chest, and/or extremity trauma. Mortality was 32% (n = 7), with three patients presenting dead on arrival. All but 3 injuries occurred between June and December, coinciding with mango and avocado season. Electrocution during fruit picking is a seasonal injury often exacerbated by falls. Management is challenging, and favorable outcome depends on recognition of the complexity of the polytrauma.


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