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Substance Abusers Often Land in ICU

Substance Abusers Often Land in ICUWhile the personal health and safety risks of drug and alcohol abuse are well-documented, a new study suggests substance dependence increases medical costs by way of the intensive care unit.

Analysis of intensive care unit admissions at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City shows drug and alcohol abuse make a patient twice as likely to be admitted to intensive care, according to the new study, published in the December issue of Intensive Care Medicine.

“Since these patients are admitted to an intensive care unit, which is geared to treat patients with a much higher acuity, medical costs are higher than for those admitted to a general ward in the hospital,” reported Mary Suchyta, M.D., lead author and a physician at Intermountain Medical Center and LDS Hospital.

The researchers reviewed records for 742 patients admitted to LDS Hospital’s intensive care unit over a one-year period. Nineteen percent of those patients had a history of drug and alcohol dependence prior to becoming critically ill. That’s twice the rate of the population served by LDS Hospital.

“It appears that that patients with drug or alcohol dependence are at higher risk for intensive care unit admission compared to the general population, which would increase overall medical costs,” said Ramona Hopkins, a psychology professor at Brigham Young University and researcher at Intermountain Medical Center and LDS Hospital.

Patients with drug or alcohol dependence were on average six years younger than the rest of ICU patients.

“What’s alarming is that substance dependence meant that these individuals were critically ill and admitted to the ICU at a much younger age than the general population,” Hopkins said.

“If these individuals do not completely recover and return to work, that represents large potential societal costs.”

The new study earned praise from the editors of Intensive Care Medicine, who noted that there are significant gaps in this type of knowledge in most ICU settings and while this article did not answer many of the questions posed by these gaps, it should stimulate further research and collaboration.

Both Drs. Suchyta and Hopkins agree that the detection of substance dependence earlier would allow doctors to address those issues and this may improve recovery.

“Dr. Hopkins and myself have thought for many years that patients with drug and alcohol dependence were overrepresented in the ICU populations that we have studied over the last 10-15 years and this study suggests that we were correct,” noted Dr. Suchyta.

Source: Brigham Young University

Substance Abusers Often Land in ICU

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Substance Abusers Often Land in ICU. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 26, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2008/12/08/substance-abusers-often-land-in-icu/3465.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.