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June 23, 2016 - Dr. Scott Patterson Receives Award for Research on Electronic Cigarettes

Patterson-2.jpgDr. Scott Patterson, a burn and surgical critical care fellow at the University of South Alabama, recently received an award for best poster at the 2016 American Burn Association (ABA) 48th Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, Nev.

Dr. Patterson was awarded best poster in the public health category for his presentation titled “E-Cigarette Explosions in the USA: A Case Report and Classification of Injuries from the Literature.” The purpose of his study was to review and classify burns caused by electronic cigarettes.

Dr. Patterson believes electronic cigarettes are growing in popularity because they are trendy, convenient, and many people mistakenly believe them to be a healthier substitute for smoking regular cigarettes. However, the potential health risks of electronic cigarettes are not well characterized and the devices are not universally regulated by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). “Health care providers should be aware of the distinct injury patterns caused by electronic cigarettes as they increase in popularity,” Dr. Patterson said.

Dr. Patterson conducted an internet search on the phrases ‘e-cigarette burns’ and ‘electronic cigarette burns’ using various search engines. Incidents occurring in the United States between Jan. 1, 2013, and Aug. 31, 2015, were included in the reports. He then created a numeric classification system to distinguish the injury patterns found on the reports.

Dr. Patterson found the injuries to occur in four distinct patterns - on the hand, face, waist or groin and in house fires caused by charging the device.“Carrying the device in your pocket has led to fires in an individual’s pocket and burns to the legs and hands,” he said. “Most people that were burned from the electronic cigarette had no idea they were at risk.”

Dr. Patterson said injuries may occur when the electronic cigarette’s lithium-ion batteries overheat and become an ignition source, resulting in fires and explosions. “This means anything with a lithium battery could cause similar injuries,” Dr. Patterson said.

“Up until the first of this month, electronic cigarettes were not regulated by the FDA,” Dr. Patterson said. The new FDA regulations on electronic cigarettes treat the device like other traditional tobacco products.

According to a recent news release by the FDA, “these actions will help the FDA prevent misleading claims by tobacco product manufacturers, evaluate the ingredients of tobacco products and how they are made, as well as communicate their potential risks.”

Dr. Patterson said he hopes the new FDA regulations will help improve the devices and educate individuals about the risks associated with electronic cigarettes.  Dr. Patterson’s manuscript is currently under review. If accepted it will represent one of the first published series of electronic cigarette injuries in medical literature.

Click here to view Dr. Patterson’s presentation abstract.

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