US Hospitalizations and Costs for Illicit Drug Users with Soft Tissue Infections

  • Traci A. TakahashiEmail author
  • Matthew L. Maciejewski
  • Katharine Bradley


Skin and soft tissue infections (SSTIs) are common complications of illicit drug use. Studies at single, urban hospitals demonstrate high rates of emergency department visits and hospitalizations for these infections. This study sought to estimate nationwide and regional incidence and costs of hospitalizations for illicit drug users with SSTIs in the US. AHRQ’s Nationwide Inpatient Sample was used to conduct a retrospective cross-sectional, time-series study. Hospitalizations of illicit drug users with SSTIs were identified using International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision Clinical Modification codes. An estimated 106,126 hospitalizations for illicit drug users with SSTIs represented 0.07% of all US non-Federal hospitalizations from 1998 to 2001 and cost over 193 million dollars in 2001. Higher rates of hospitalization were found in the West, Northeast, and urban teaching hospitals. Hospitalization rates for illicit drug users with SSTIs vary significantly according to US region. Resources to reduce the incidence and severity of these infections should be targeted accordingly.


drug abuse utilization skin and soft tissue infections costs 


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Copyright information

© Department of Veterans Affairs 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Traci A. Takahashi
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Matthew L. Maciejewski
    • 2
  • Katharine Bradley
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.VA Puget Sound Health Care SystemSeattleUSA
  2. 2.General Internal Medicine, Department of MedicineDuke University Medical CenterDurhamUSA
  3. 3.HSR&DVA Puget Sound Health Care SystemSeattleUSA
  4. 4.University of Washington School of MedicineSeattleUSA

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