Methamphetamine Accounts for More ED Visits than Any Other Drug, Survey Finds
Forty-seven percent of hospitals run or funded by counties said methamphetamine was the leading illicit drug involved in emergency department visits, according to a survey conducted by the National Association of Counties, USA Today reports.
Of hospitals surveyed, 16% said marijuana was the illicit drug most responsible for ED visits, while 15% cited cocaine. NACO surveyed 200 hospitals operated or funded by counties in 39 states and Washington, D.C. (Leinwand, USA Today, 1/18). The survey was conducted late last year.
Seventy-three percent of hospitals said the number of meth-related ED visits had increased during the last five years. Sixty-eight percent reported an increase in the last three years, and 45% said the number of cases had increased during the last year. Fourteen percent of hospitals said meth cases accounted for 20% of their ED patients.
In the Midwest, 70% of hospitals said meth accounted for 10% of their overall ED patients. Fifty-six percent of hospitals nationwide said their costs had risen because of meth.
Many meth-related ED visits are for burns experienced while making the drug or for children exposed to the source chemicals. In addition, users can develop rapid heartbeat, increased blood pressure and fevers of up to 105 degrees. Meth users also arrive at the ED with injuries sustained during fights (Zernike, New York Times, 1/18).
A separate NACO study of 200 state and county treatment program directors in 35 states and Washington, D.C., found that 69% reported an increased number of meth users seeking treatment (USA Today, 1/18).
NACO said it wanted more federal money to fund hospitals that treat the uninsured, treatment programs, programs for affected children and continued law enforcement grants (New York Times, 1/18).
Tom Riley, spokesperson for the White House drug czar, said, "We are tailoring programs to be responsive to local needs," adding, "[w]e think we're meeting with some success with this approach" (USA Today, 1/18).