Wounds and Skin and Soft Tissue Infections in People Who Inject Drugs and the Utility of Syringe Service Programs in Their Management

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Significance: Opioid use disorder and transition to injection drug use (IDU) are an urgent, nationwide public health crisis. Wounds and skin and soft tissue infections (SSTIs) are common complications of IDU that disproportionately affect people who inject drugs (PWID) and are a major source of morbidity and mortality for this population. Critical Issues: Injections in a nonsterile environment and reusing or sharing needles facilitates bacterial inoculation, with subsequent risk of serious complications such as sepsis, gangrene, amputation, and death. PWID are susceptible to infections with a wide spectrum of organisms beyond common culprits of SSTI, including Clostridium and Bacillus spp., as well as Candida. Recent Advances: Syringe services programs (SSPs) are cost-effective and successful in reducing harms associated with IDU. SSPs provide new equipment to PWID and aid in discarding used equipment. SSPs aim to reduce the risks of unhygienic injecting practices, which are associated with transmission of infections and blood-borne pathogens. Future Directions: Concurrently run SSPs and wound care clinics are uniquely positioned to facilitate care to PWID. Providing new, sterile equipment as well as early wound care intervention can reduce morbidity and mortality as well as health care expenditures by reducing the number of SSTI and injection-related wounds that require hospital admission. Establishment of wound care clinics as part of an SSP represents an untapped potential to reduce harm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-582
Number of pages12
JournalAdvances in Wound Care
Volume10
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2021

Keywords

  • injection drug use
  • skin and soft tissue infections
  • syringe services programs
  • wounds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine

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