As the number of patients with opioid use disorder (OUD) who develop the life-threatening heart condition endocarditis increases, hospitals are struggling to provide adequate treatment, STAT reports.

Endocarditis is an inflammation of the heart lining caused by infection. Among people with OUD, the rate of endocarditis jumped from 4 million per day to 30 million per day between 2011 and 2022, with the sharpest increase between 2021 and 2022.

OUD patients with this condition require complex care, including intravenous antibiotics and heart valve surgery. Hospitals often have few protocols in place for treating them and the withdrawal they are likely to experience when they are admitted, the article notes. Their hospital stays are lengthy.

Patients are often not treated for the severity of withdrawal symptoms, and even when they are, they often get released from the hospital with no linkage to care. When addiction remains untreated, patients often are readmitted for repeat infections, leading to frustration and additional stigma from providers. Some doctors seek long-term care facilities for patients, but skilled nursing facilities often refuse to accept patients with addiction.