Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Shake, Bake and Burn Centers: The New Explosion in Homemade Meth

When I fly, I need to take pseudoephedrine to avoid a lot of ear pain. The last time I purchased it, I had to ask the pharmacist, even though it is an over-the-counter drug. It’s been that way for a couple of years, because pseudoephedrine is one of the ingredients in homemade methamphetamine. By limiting access to pseudoephedrine, authorities reason, they make it harder to manufacture meth and can hopefully reduce the supply.

There have been unintended consequences of this policy, however.

Ever resourceful drug dealers and users have devised a way to make meth using smaller amounts of pseudoephedrine, and that, in turn, has resulted in some burn units in this country having to close.

I’ll connect the dots.

The newest method of making meth is called “shake-and-bake” because all the ingredients are combined in a two-liter soda bottle or a wine bottle, then shaken vigorously. It’s a delicate operation because, according to a recent Associated Press story, “ if the person mixing the noxious brew makes the slightest error, such as removing the cap too soon or accidentally perforating the plastic, the concoction can explode, searing flesh and causing permanent disfigurement, blindness or even death.”

Making meth this way means it can easily be done in homes or garages, which in turn, puts more innocent bystanders – including children – at risk. In some areas of the country, the number of patients admitted to burn units because of methamphetamine explosions has skyrocketed, and nearly all of these patients are uninsured.

According to a Missouri county sheriff department spokesman, "30 percent of the beds each day at burn units across the Midwest are taken up by uninsured meth lab burn victims, who will leave the hospitals owing $100,000 each for their care…"

A stay in a burn unit can cost about $6,000 a day, according to the story.
By 2010, about 80 percent of labs busted by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration were using shake-and-bake recipes, according to one DEA agent who was quoted.
Bound by oath, nurses must care, to the best of our abilities, for all patients, and caring for burn patients can be gut-wrenching. The pain, disfigurement, complications and heartbreak are beyond what most nurses want to handle. It takes a special kind of nurse to administer to burn patients and still keep a positive outlook for both patients and themselves.

Caring for the patient whose burns are the result of a shake-and-bake explosion could cause some conflicting emotions, especially if the patient’s actions have caused harm to others—whether that includes injured bystanders or the many residents of communities who depend on the availability of a burn unit.

Burn units are generally regional. They serve large geographical areas and populations, and provide specialized care that can’t be given in just any hospital. Losing a burn unit because it becomes financially impossible to sustain means the loss of a highly specialized service for thousands of people.

Would caring for these types of burn patients (meth manufacturers) cause an ethical dilemma for you?

Has a hospital in your area been affected by uncompensated costs of caring for victims of meth lab explosions?

Tell us what you think.

1 comment:

ERogan5877 said...

Wow,This is a crazy story. I was burned 58% of my body. I was in the hostipal for almost 9 months. The medicals bills were over 3 Million dollars. Even with people with insurance exceed there total medical benefits. Mine were exhausted at 1M health and 250K for Auto. So I was able to get medicad. When these junkies get out, they have a new scam getting pain meds for the nerve damage. So they will get more drugs for there habits