A crude new method of making methamphetamine poses a risk even to people who never get anywhere near the drug, reports the Associated Press. It is filling hospitals with thousands of uninsured burn patients requiring millions of dollars in advanced treatment. The trend is so costly that it’s contributing to the closure of burn units.
“Shake-and-bake” meth is produced by combining raw, unstable ingredients in a 2-liter soda bottle. If the cook 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. An AP survey of hospitals in the most active meth states showed that up to a third of patients in some burn units were hurt while making meth, and most were uninsured. The average treatment costs $6,000 per day. The average meth patient’s hospital stay costs $130,000 — 60 percent more than other burn patients, says a study by burn center doctors in Kalamazoo, Mi.