Researchers: Infective endocarditis linked to IV drug use ‘a growing healthcare crisis’

The number of patients admitted to U.S. hospitals for infective endocarditis (IE) related to IV drug use has more than doubled over the last several years, racking up an average of $72,000 in expenses each time.

Salil V. Deo, MD, with Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and colleagues published these findings in a research letter in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Using the National Inpatient Sample, which contains 20 percent of admissions from nonfederal hospitals in the U.S., the researchers estimated nearly 250,000 admissions for IE occurred from 2008 to 2014. IE hospitalizations increased from 33,073 in 2008 to 39,805 in 2014, with the proportion of those related to IV drug use increasing from 4.3 percent to 10.0 percent over that same timeframe.

By 2014, 27 percent of IE cases among those under 30 years old was related to drug use, Deo et al. noted. Those patients were more likely to be women, insured by Medicaid and Caucasian when compared to the IE cohort as a whole.

Furthermore, they averaged longer hospital stays (17 days versus 13) and higher median charges ($72,000 versus $62,400) than others with IE.

“IE admissions in patients with IVDU (IV drug use) have doubled in the last few years in the United States,” the researchers wrote. “This, coupled with higher post-operative morbidity and resource utilization in these patients, represents a growing health care cost crisis. …

“These patients have higher in-hospital costs in general, with doubling of costs when cardiac surgery is performed. Unless significant, stringent steps are taken to curb the menace of recreational drug use among young adults, this public health crisis could become an epidemic.”