Lithium battery explosions – A statewide NSW review 

Dr Jason Diab1, Dr Andrea Issler-Fisher1, Dr Justine O’Hara1 Dr Erik La Hei2, Dr Robert Gates3, Prof Peter Maitz1

1Concord Hospital, Concord, Australia, 2Westmead Children’s Hospital, Westmead, Australia, 3Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards, Australia



Since the increase of lithium battery devices such as electronic cigarettes and battery power banks, there has been a steady increase of reporting for burn injuries secondary to device malfunction. The nature of these devices result in partial thickness to full thickness injuries from chemical or flame burns. Our aim is to identify and classify epidemiological trends of explosions from lithium battery devices across New South Wales from all three major burn units.


A comprehensive literature review was conducted initially to understand the nature of these incidents followed by a review of the data across Westmead Children’s Hospital, Royal North Shore Hospital and Concord Hospital. A search was conducted using keywords such as lithium, e-cigarettes, battery and vaping to encapsulate the cohort. All patients whom suffered a burn secondary from a lithium battery device were included and data was extracted on mechanism of injury, severity of injury and management. A statistical analysis using SPSS assessed the relationship between linear data and correlation based on a level of significance set at p value of 0.05.


There were 26 patients whom presented to the burn units across New South Wales. The patients injuries ranged from partial thickness to full thickness injuries with flame burn being the most common type of injury. The majority of cases were males with most cases involving spontaneous explosions.


Lithium battery device explosions can result in chemical and flame burns that require a comprehensive assessment to exclude secondary injuries such as inhalation injury. The increasing global trend of e-cigarettes and battery power banks raises the importance of consumer awareness on safety regulation and potential risks associated with use. Nursing care and medical education on hazards associated with these devices and the risk for serious injury, particularly amongst the youth, should be considered early in assessment and care for patients.


Jason is a SRMO at Concord Burns Unit with an interest in public health epidemiology and prevention in burns.

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