Toll of methamphetamine on the trauma system

Gail T. Tominaga, George Garcia, Alex Dzierba, Jan Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Hypothesis: Methamphetamine use affects length of hospital stay in the minimally injured patient. Design: Case series. Setting: The only tertiary trauma center serving Hawaii. Patients: Trauma patients examined during a 12-month period with an Injury Severity Score of 1 to 5 and an age of 18 to 55 years undergoing urine toxicology screen for suspected suicide attempt or altered sensorium. Main Outcome Measures: Presence or absence of amphetamine or methamphetamine on urine toxicology screen, intention of injury, hospital admission rate, length of stay, and hospital charges. Results: During the study period, 1650 trauma patients were examined, with 544 meeting study criteria. Urine toxicology screens were performed in 212 patients, with 57 positive and 155 negative for amphetamine or methamphetamine. There was no difference in sex (77% vs 73% male; P = .53), Injury Severity Score (3.2 for both groups), or total number of computed tomographic scans performed (mean ± SEM, 3.0 ± 0.3 vs 4.0 ± 0.3; P = .07). Patients in the positive group were more likely to have intentional self-inflicted injury or intentional assaults than patients in the negative group (37% vs 22%; P = .04). The positive group was older than the negative group (33.6 ± 1.3 vs 29.9 ± 0.8 years; P = .02), had a significantly longer hospital stay (2.7 ± 0.4 vs 1.7 ± 0.1 days; P = .003), had significantly higher hospital charges ($15617 ± $1866 vs $11600 ± $648; P = .01), and was more likely admitted to the hospital (91% vs 70%; P = .001) despite the low Injury Severity Score. Conclusion: Methamphetamine use results in trauma center resource utilization out of proportion to injury severity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)844-847
Number of pages4
JournalArchives of Surgery
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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