A top federal drug official toured a regional burn center in Tennessee where a third of the patients were injured by fires and explosions in clandestine methamphetamine labs, the Associated Press reports. Doctors say such cases occur daily and drive up medical costs for everyone. Costs of treating critically injured burn victims typically exceed $10,000 a day, and most meth patients have no health insurance.
Joseph Keefe, deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, toured the burn center. One patient had spent 45 days in a hospital from an October meth blast and “has gone out and blown himself up again.” The man has been in the burn unit about 30 days from the second injury, and his medical costs to date total about $240,000. Such victims often end up collecting disability. The hospital is obligated to treat any injured people, even from other states. One severe burn case involved a child who was injured inside a mobile home where someone cooking meth had lined interior walls with plastic to trap the odorous, toxic fumes.