This category covers injuries caused by exposure to extreme conditions such as electric currents, air pressure and temperature, and radiation. Exposure to electric current is the most common cause of hospitalised injury in this category, followed by exposure to high and low air pressure and changes in air pressure.

In 2019–20, electricity and air pressure caused:

680 hospitalisations

2.7 per 100,000 population

 12 deaths

<0.1 per 100,000 population

This represents 0.1% of injury hospitalisations and 0.1% of injury deaths. Males are more at risk of this kind of injury.

This chapter summarises data on unintentional exposures, and excludes intentional injuries and deaths (refer to Self-harm injuries and suicide or Assault and homicide).

Deaths in this category are relatively rare.

Causes of hospitalisation

In 2019–20, almost 6 in 10 (60%) of hospitalisations in this category were caused by exposure to electric current.

Table 1: Causes of hospitalisation due to electricity and air pressure, 2019–20

Cause

Number

%

Rate
(per 100,000)

Exposure to electric current (W85–87)

407

60

1.6

Exposure to high and low air pressure and changes in air pressure (W94)

244

36

1.0

Other (W88–W93, W99)

26

4

0.1

Total

677

100

2.7

Notes

  1. Rates are crude per 100,000 population.
  2. Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding.
  3. Codes in brackets refer to the ICD-10-AM (11th edition) external cause codes (ACCD 2019).

Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.

For more detail, see Data tables B17-18.

Seasonality and COVID-19

Hospital admissions for injuries due to electricity and air pressure do not appear to exhibit a clear seasonal pattern (Figure 1).

In March 2020, the first lockdowns and social distancing measures associated with COVID-19 interrupted the usual activity of many Australians. The restrictions to movement and activity coincided with a marked drop in overall injury hospitalisations. For injuries from electricity and air pressure, there were 34% fewer admissions from March to May than the in same period of the previous year. Figure 1 should be interpreted with caution due to the small numbers involved.

See the interactive COVID-19 display for data and further discussion about the impact of COVID-19 on hospital admissions.

Figure 1: Hospitalisations due to electricity and air pressure, by month, 2017–18 to 2019–20

Notes
1. Months have been standardised to 31 days.
2. A scale up factor has been applied to June admissions to account for cases not yet separated.

Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.

Variation by age and sex

Rates of hospitalisation due to exposure to electricity and air pressure were highest in the 25–44 age group, and males had 3.5 times the rate of females in 2019–20 (Figure 2).

Eleven of the 12 deaths were for males aged between 25 and 64. 

Figure 2: Hospitalisations due to electricity and air pressure, by age group and sex, 2019–20

The visualisation features 2 matching column graphs on separate tabs, 1 for hospitalisations and 1 for deaths. The columns represent sex within 6 life-stage age groups. The reader can select to display either age-specific rate per 100,000 population or number. The default displays males and females and the reader can also select to display persons.

For more detail, see Data tables A1–3 and D1–3.

Severity

There are many ways that the severity, or seriousness, of an injury can be measured. Using available data, three measures of the severity of hospitalised injuries are:

  • number of days in hospital
  • time in an intensive care unit (ICU)
  • time on a ventilator.

The average number of days in hospital for injuries due to electricity and air pressure was less than the average for all hospitalised injuries, and the percentages of cases that included time in an ICU and/or involved continuous ventilatory support were lower than average in 2019–20 (Table 2).

Table 2: Severity of hospitalised injuries caused by electricity and air pressure, 2019–20

 

Electricity and air pressure

All injuries

Average number of days in hospital

1.8

4.5

% of cases with time in an ICU

1.3

2.4

% of cases involving ventilator

0.7

1.4

Note: Average number of days in hospital (length of stay) includes admissions that are transfers from 1 hospital to another or transfers from 1 admitted care type to another within the same hospital, except where care involves rehabilitation procedures.

Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.

For more detail, see Data tables A12–13.

More information

Defining injury hospitalisations and deaths: how injuries were counted

Technical notes: how the data were calculated

Data tables: download full data tables

Glossary