United States (U.S.) national data indicate that 2,035 individuals with burn injuries from e-cigarette explosion presented to U.S. hospital emergency departments (EDs) in 2015-2017. This national estimate is valuable for understanding the burden of burn injuries from e-cigarette explosion among individuals who presented to EDs. However, little is known about individuals who experienced e-cigarette-related burns but may not present to EDs or health care facilities.
We analyzed data from the National Poison Data System (NPDS) to describe the frequency and characteristics of e-cigarette-related burn cases in the U.S. in 2010-2019. NPDS contains information collected during telephone calls to poison control centers (PCCs) across the U.S., including e-cigarette-related burns and other unintended events. During 2010-2019, 19,306 exposure cases involving e-cigarettes were documented in NPDS. Of those, 69 were burn cases. The number of burn cases increased from one in 2011 to a peak of 26 in 2016, then decreased to three in 2019. The majority of the burn cases occurred among young adults aged 18-24 years (29.0%; n=20) and adults aged 25 years or older (43.5%; n=30). Of the 69 burn cases, 5.8% (n=4) were admitted to a hospital; 65.2% (n=45) were treated, evaluated, and released; 15.9% (n=11) were not referred to a health care facility (HCF); 4.4% (n=3) refused referral or did not arrive at an HCF; and 8.7% (n=6) were lost to follow-up or left against medical advice. Nearly one-third (30.4%; n=21) of the cases had a minor effect (i.e., symptoms were self-limited), 47.8% (n=33) had a moderate effect (symptoms were more pronounced and prolonged than in minor cases, but not life-threatening), and 2.9% (n=2) had a major effect (symptoms were life-threatening).
Approximately one-fifth of e-cigarette-related burn cases reported to PCCs were not referred to or did not arrive at an HCF. Some burn cases had serious medical outcomes. The burn cases mostly affected young adults and adults aged 25 years or older. The number of burn cases observed in this study represents a small portion of e-cigarette-related burn cases but can serve as a complementary data source to traditional injury surveillance systems.