Serious infections related to opioid abuse contribute to rise in hospitalizations

Infections are a recognized complication associated with drug abuse, but little research has been conducted on the costs associated with infections related to opioid abuse in the U.S. — the very topic of a recent study in Health Affairs.

The authors of the study examined a nationally representative sample of U.S. inpatient hospitalizations and found admissions related to opioid abuse or dependence with associated serious infection significantly increased from 2002 to 2012, from 301,707 to 520,275. The number of hospitalizations related to opioid abuse or dependence without infection increased during that time span as well, from 3,421 to 6,535.

The cost of hospitalizations with and without opioid abuse-associated infections nearly quadrupled during the decade studied, increasing to almost $15 billion for hospitalizations related to opioid abuse or dependence and more than $700 million for those related to associated infections in 2012.

According to the authors, the results characterize the financial burden of opioid abuse and dependence, as well as one of its downstream complications — serious infection.

"These findings have important implications for the hospitals and government agencies that disproportionately shoulder these costs and for clinicians, researchers and policy makers interested in estimating the potential impact of targeted public health interventions on a national level," concluded the study.



More articles on opioids:
'West Wing' actress addresses opioid epidemic at White House press briefing
FDA may require physician training to prescribe opioids
Tennova Healthcare to cease prescribing opiates for long-term pain management

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