Only a few U.S. hospitals allow patients with a history of drug use to take intravenous antibiotics at home, NPR reports. Most hospitals fear that such patients might be tempted to use the IV tube to inject drugs like heroin, cocaine or meth.
Patients who need weeks or months of IV antibiotic treatment, but don’t otherwise need to be in the hospital, are sent home with a flexible IV tube called a PICC line, inserted into the arm or chest. This allows them to finish the medication at home.
Several hospitals, including Brigham and Women’s in Boston, are allowing some patients with a history of drug use to go home with a PICC line. They say it increases the chances the patients will stay on the antibiotics needed to cure their infection.
Almost all people who inject drugs end up with some type of infection, according to Dr. Christin Price a director of the Bridge Clinic, a walk-in clinic in Boston run by Brigham and Women’s for people seeking treatment for a substance use disorder. She says some of her patients don’t want to remain in the hospital for weeks at a time to finish their course of antibiotics. This increases the risk they will end up with a recurring infection and another trip to the hospital.
Opioids & IV Drug Use: Risks, Warning Signs & How to Help a Loved One
Watch this video series to help you understand the relationship between (and risks of) opioid addiction and IV drug use, and how to best to help your child.