Methamphetamine abuse and emergency department utilization

John R Richards, S. W. Bretz, E. B. Johnson, Samuel D Turnipseed, B. T. Brofeldt, R. W. Derlet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

130 Scopus citations


Methamphetamine (MAP) abuse continues to increase worldwide, based on morbidity, mortality, drug treatment, and epidemiologic studies and surveys. MAP abuse has become a significant health care, environmental, and law enforcement problem. Acute intoxication often results in agitation, violence, and death. Chronic use may lead to infection, heart failure, malnutrition, and permanent psychiatric illness. MAP users frequently use the emergency department (ED) for their medical care. Over a 6-month period we studied the demographics, type, and frequency of medical and traumatic problems in 461 MAP patients presenting to our ED, which serves an area noted for high levels of MAP production and consumption. Comparison was made to the general ED population to assess use patterns. MAP patients were most commonly Caucasian males who lacked health insurance. Compared to other ED patients during this time, MAP patients used ambulance transport more and were more likely to be admitted to the hospital. There was a significant association between trauma and MAP use in this patient population. Our data suggest MAP users utilize prehospital and hospital resources at levels higher than the average ED population. Based on current trends, we can expect more ED visits by MAP users in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-202
Number of pages5
JournalWestern Journal of Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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