Suboptimal Addiction Interventions for Patients Hospitalized with Injection Drug Use-Associated Infective Endocarditis

Am J Med. 2016 May;129(5):481-5. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2015.09.024. Epub 2015 Nov 18.


Background: Infective endocarditis is a serious infection, often resulting from injection drug use. Inpatient treatment regularly focuses on management of infection without attention to the underlying addiction. We aimed to determine the addiction interventions done in patients hospitalized with injection drug use-associated infective endocarditis.

Methods: This is a retrospective review of patients hospitalized with injection drug use-associated infective endocarditis from January, 2004 through August, 2014 at a large academic tertiary care center in Boston, Massachusetts. For the initial and subsequent admissions, data were collected regarding addiction interventions, including consultation by social work, addiction clinical nurse and psychiatry, documentation of addiction in the discharge summary plan, plan for medication-assisted treatment and naloxone provision.

Results: There were 102 patients admitted with injection drug use-associated infective endocarditis, 50 patients (49.0%) were readmitted and 28 (27.5%) patients had ongoing injection drug use at readmission. At initial admission, 86.4% of patients had social work consultation, 23.7% had addiction consultation, and 24.0% had psychiatry consultation. Addiction was mentioned in 55.9% of discharge summary plans, 7.8% of patients had a plan for medication-assisted treatment, and naloxone was never prescribed. Of 102 patients, 26 (25.5%) are deceased. The median age at death was 40.9 years (interquartile range 28.7-48.7).

Conclusions: We found that patients hospitalized with injection drug use-associated infective endocarditis had high rates of readmission, recurrent infective endocarditis and death. Despite this, addiction interventions were suboptimal. Improved addiction interventions are imperative in the treatment of injection drug use-associated infective endocarditis.

Keywords: Harm reduction; Infective endocarditis; Injection drug use; Medication-assisted treatment; Substance use disorder.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Boston / epidemiology
  • Crisis Intervention / statistics & numerical data*
  • Endocarditis / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injections / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / mortality
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy*
  • Tertiary Care Centers / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult