The association between illicit drug use and infectious complications among trauma patients

Vaidehi Agrawal, J. D. Amos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Management of patients with traumatic injury is a complex endeavor requiring a concerted effort of multi-organ stabilization and prevention of septic shock. Given that traumatic injury is frequently mediated by illicit drug use, which has previously been associated with immune suppression, it is hypothesized that infectious complications may occur more prevalently in this patient population. In this study, we evaluate the incidence of infectious complications in trauma patients who screened positive for illicit drug abuse. The national trauma databank was queried for all patients who underwent laboratory evaluation for drug use between 2002 and 2009 and between 2013 and 2014. Patient demographics, clinical outcomes (injury severity score [ISS], intensive care unit length of stay [ILOS], hospital length of stay [HLOS], mortality, risk-adjusted ILOS [rILOS] or HLOS [rHLOS]) and infectious complications (pneumonia, superficial surgical site infection, organ space infection, deep space surgical site infection and urinary tract infection) were attained. Out of 5,564,821 incidents, 525,052 admissions met the inclusion criteria. Patients were 41 ± 19 years of age and 72 % were male. Patients positive for drug use were 1.1-fold more likely to develop pneumonia, 1.2-fold more likely to develop superficial site infection, and 1.3-fold more likely to develop organ space infection. No statistically significant variations in ILOS, HLOS, rILOS, rHLOS or mortality were noted. Traumatic patients who screen positive for illicit drug use are more likely to develop infectious complications. Therefore, vigilance and appropriate preventative measures should be considered in this unique group of patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)447-450
Number of pages4
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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