Methamphetamine Production Is Hazardous to Your Health

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To describe the thermal injuries related to methamphetamine (METH) production, characterize patients’ courses, and compare patients with matched controls and to the previously published series.


Trauma registry data from January 2001 to November 2005 was retrospectively reviewed. METH patients were compared with other burn patients of similar age and total body surface area burn size for toxicology, injury extent, therapies, hospital course, outcomes, and hospital charges. The METH group was compared with the other published series of METH-related burn patients.


Twenty-nine patients (86.2% male) had METH-related burns. METH and control groups were similar in age, gender, predicted resuscitation fluid volume, and total body surface area. Mortality, mean length of stay, surgical procedures, and mean hospital charges did not differ significantly between the groups. Endotracheal intubation was required more frequently in METH patients (55.2% vs. 24.1%, p = 0.020). METH patients mean resuscitation volume was greater than controls (9,638 mL vs. 6,633 mL, p = 0.011), but neither group exceeded the volume predicted by the Parkland formula. More METH patients had inhalation injury (41.4% vs. 13.8%, p = 0.019). A METH patient was more likely to have a complication than his matched control (p = 0.049), and pneumonia was more frequent in the METH group (p = 0.005). Private insurance was less common in METH patients (10.3% vs. 58.6%, p < 0.001).


METH patients suffer more frequent inhalation injuries, need greater initial fluid resuscitation volume, require endotracheal intubation more frequently, and are more likely to have complications than matched controls. This does not translate to greater mortality, longer length of stay, more surgical procedures, or significantly greater hospital charges. Few METH patients hold private insurance.

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