Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
July 30, 2020
1 min read

Septic arthritis caused by injection drugs linked with increased hospital stays, expenses

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
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Injection drug users who develop septic arthritis of the shoulder have been linked to negative patient outcomes, as well as increased hospital stays and medical expenses, according to published results.

Researchers from Tufts Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, compared differences in hospitalization outcomes, use of resources and patient charges between patients with shoulder septic arthritis with injection drug use (IDU) and without. Measured outcomes included length of stay, leaving against medical advice, number of procedures and mortality rates.

According to the study, 15% of shoulder septic arthritis cases were associated with IDU, increasing fourfold during the study period.

“After controlling for age, sex and race, individuals who inject drugs stayed in the hospital for 3.7 more days, incurred an average of $13,250 more charges for medical care, and were 5.54 times more likely to leave against medical advice than those without IDU,” the researchers wrote in the study. “From 2000 to 2013, there was an increase in the proportion of patients with IDU-related septic arthritis of the shoulder between 35 and 54 years old and 55 and 64 years old, and an increase in the proportion who were white,” they wrote.

The researchers concluded by recommending that orthopedic surgeons accurately screen for IDU among patients with shoulder septic arthritis, as these patients tend to seek medical attention later and must be treated as early as possible.