Dalhousie University general internal medicine resident, Dr. Thomas Brothers, has taken a deep dive into addiction treatment and harm reduction services at the Saint John Regional Hospital and the QEII, and results show there is room for improvement.

The manuscript, Unequal access to opioid agonist treatment and sterile injecting equipment among hospitalized patients with injection drug use-associated infective endocarditis (IDU-IE), was recently published in PLOS ONE, a peer-reviewed open access scientific journal produced by the Public Library of Science. Dr. Brothers and his colleagues, including Dalhousie faculty in both Halifax and New Brunswick, gathered hospital data over an 18-month period between 2015-2017 and found that patients with IDU-IE in the Canadian Maritimes have unequal access to addiction care depending on where they are hospitalized, which also differs greatly from the community-based standard of care.

The study was borne from a desire to identify how people were being admitted to hospital with IDU-IE and how many were offered appropriate care. While Dr. Brothers was completing his medical school training at Dalhousie, he noted the frequency with which patients were admitted with serious, life-threatening bacterial infections such as endocarditis resulting from injection drug-use. The pattern following these admissions alerted him to the need to help these patients.