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Emergency Medical Minute


Apr 26, 2017

Author: Don Stader, M.D

Educational Pearls:

  • It is important for providers to know how to use IV drugs properly so that they can instruct their patients on how to avoid injury. Heroin use is increasing.
  • Hepatitis, HIV and infection are possible complications of improper IV drug use
  • The first step of heroin use is to dissolve the solid heroin in water using heat - a spoon and lighter are often used for this step. Next, the heroin is drawn into the syringe through a filter (cotton is often used).
  • Heroin concentration often varies widely - counsel patients to test their heroin first.
  • Sterility of the needle, water, cooker, cotton and syringe is paramount. Refer patients to a needle exchange program where they can get clean supplies.
  • Hepatitis C can live outside the body for 4 days - NEVER share ANY supplies.
  • Sterile procedure is important - needles should not be licked.