Thursday, January 19, 2006

Hospitals Say Meth Cases Are Rising, and Hurt Care

From the NY Times

A sharp increase in the number of people arriving in emergency rooms with methamphetamine-related problems is straining local hospital budgets and treatment facilities across the country, particularly in the Midwest, according to two surveys to be released in Washington today.

The studies, conducted late last year by the National Association of Counties, are another indicator of the toll the drug has taken on local communities, particularly in rural areas where social service networks are ill-equipped to deal with the consequences. In July, the association reported that an overwhelming number of sheriffs polled nationwide declared methamphetamine their No. 1 law enforcement problem.

In the most recent survey, conducted late last year, 73 percent of the 200 county and regional hospitals polled said they had seen an increase in the number of people visiting emergency rooms for methamphetamine-related problems over the last five years; 68 percent reported a continued increase in the last three years, and 45 percent in the last year.

The problem was particularly intense in the middle of the country: 70 percent of hospitals in the Midwest and 80 percent in the Upper Midwest said methamphetamine accounted for 10 percent of their patients. Nationwide, 14 percent of the hospitals said such cases made up 20 percent of their emergency room visits.


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