Meth Users Have Tougher Time in Hospital

Injured methamphetamine users are more likely to be admitted to the hospital, stay longer, and have higher hospital costs, says a study in the August issue of the Archives of Surgery.

Researchers at The Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu examined the records of 212 patients, aged 18 to 55, admitted to the hospital’s trauma center in 2002. Of those 212 patients, 57 tested positive for amphetamine or methamphetamine use. Those who tested positive were more likely to have an intentional self-inflicted injury or intentional assault-related injury than those who tested negative (37% vs. 22%).

The patients who tested positive were more likely to be older (average age 33.6 years vs. 29.9 years), and more likely to be admitted to the hospital (91% vs. 70%). Those who tested positive also were more likely to have longer hospital stays (2.7 days vs. 1.7 days) and much higher average hospital costs ($15,617 vs. $11,600).

“Our study demonstrated an increased use of hospital resources, measured by hospital LOS (length of stay) and charges, in the minimally injured adult trauma patients who tested positive for methamphetatmine. This can be explained by the physiological and psychological effects of the drug,” the study authors wrote.

Hawaii has one of the highest rates of methamphetamine use in the United States. The study said that 40% of people arrested in Honolulu test positive for methamphetamine, which can cause aggressive and erratic behavior. After a high, which can last six to 12 hours or more, methamphetamine users can suffer severe exhaustion.
Source: TUESDAY, Aug. 10 2004 (Health Day News)

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