Seattle Doctors are seeing one case per month with injuries, permantnt scarring, etc.
SEATTLE -- Devices known as e-cigarettes are exploding in people's hands and mouths. Trauma doctors in Seattle say they're seeing a new tend as more reports of injury continue to come in from across the country.
Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say nearly 13 percent of adults have tried an e-cigarette at least once. Some people see it as a healthier alternative to cigarettes, but lithium batteries inside can overheat and explode.
Recently released surveillance video from an Owensboro, Kentucky convenience store shows the danger with flames coming from an e-cigarette inside a man's pocket.
“Now we’re seeing these incidents happening on a more common basis," said Dr. Elisha Brownson of Harborview Medical Center.
Injuries from e-cigarettes used to be considered rare, but now Harborview sees about one patient a month suffering burns, permanent scarring and even loss of teeth.
“We really feel like this is the tip of the iceberg as we’re becoming more aware of this injury," said Brownson. "We’re actually not even aware of the true incidents of how frequent this may be happening around the country.”
Some patients require multiple operations and need to be put on ventilators.
“It’s a unique injury because it combines both flame burn, so we’re seeing burns to the skin-- but also blast injury," Brownson explained. "We’re seeing soft tissue damage in the mouth, in the hands.”
With the CDC reporting more and more high school students using e-cigarettes, Harborview staff say they won't be surprised to see the trend of more injuries continue.
Experts say increased regulations on how e-cigarettes are manufactured could be key to preventing future injury.