Needle-exchange program found to reduce emergency room visits among intravenous drug users

June 27, 2002

A study in the New Haven, Connecticut area found that a mobile needle exchange program reduced emergency department use among out-of-treatment injection drug users (IDUs).

Dr. Harold A. Pollack, University of Michigan, Dr. Frederick L. Altice, Yale University School of Medicine, and colleagues from Yale University studied 373 IDUs. Of those studied, 117 had used the needle-exchange program and 256 had not.

Emergency department visits declined among the needle-exchange program users and increased among those who did not use the program. There were significant reductions in emergency department use among Hispanics, men, HIV-negative IDUs, and those with mental illness.

The study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

WHAT IT MEANS: Based on these findings, it appears that needle-exchange-based health care services can reduce emergency department use among high-risk IDUs.
The study was published in the May 2002 issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine which is devoted to the subject of substance abuse.

NIH/National Institute on Drug Abuse

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