CDC: Hospitalizations for heroin-related infections on the rise in North Carolina

As the opioid epidemic worsens, hospitals in North Carolina have seen an increase in patients being hospitalized for endocarditis, a bacterial complication of injection drug use, according to a report in the CDC's Friday Morbidity and Mortality Report.

Researchers analyzed data from the North Carolina Hospital Discharge database to examine trends in hospitalizations for endocarditis with drug dependence from 2010 through 2015.

They found the incidence of hospital discharges for drug dependence with endocarditis increased more than twelvefold in the six-year span — from 0.2 per 100,000 discharges in 2010 to 2.7 per 100,000 discharges in 2015.

Additionally, hospital costs for treating these types of patients increased from $1.1 million in 2010 to $22.2 million in 2015 — an eighteenfold increase.

"As the U.S. opioid epidemic continues to grow, hospitalizations for infectious complications associated with injection drug use are likely to increase," the CDC report reads.

The authors recommend implementing syringe service programs, harm reduction strategies and other public health interventions to "reduce disease burden and save healthcare costs."

They also urge collaboration between healthcare systems, public health and policymakers to "reduce the risks associated with injection drug use."

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