The medical consequences of the opioid epidemic

This issue also features articles about care for prisoners and changes in visa laws.


The opioid epidemic has been stealing headlines and lives around the U.S. for years now. Our cover stories this month focus specifically on the role of hospitalists in responding to this crisis. First, staff writer Mollie Durkin has collected data and expertise on how to initiate addiction treatment for inpatients with opioid use disorder. Hospitalization can present an opportunity to help patients get off opioids, but physicians' familiarity with and willingness to use the medications that treat addiction are critical to success, as the story explains. A companion article looks at rising rates of drug-associated endocarditis and the difficult decisions that accompany this diagnosis, such as when to provide aortic valve surgery to patients with repeat infections. This month's Test Yourself focuses on the same topic.

Another article in this issue looks at a different, but also challenging, patient population—those who are admitted to the hospital from a jail or prison. We've gathered advice from experts on providing optimal care to these patients while avoiding any missteps that could potentially violate rules or regulations.

Speaking of regulations, a Perspectives piece describes the potentially damaging consequences to the U.S. health care system that may result from recently proposed changes to immigration laws. The physician authors call for the involvement of their colleagues in providing political and personal support to trainees and physicians from abroad. Supporting clinicians is also the theme of this month's Success Story, about a program that helps clinicians deal with stressful events in the hospital.

On a lighter note, this month's Newman's Notions describes a fictional flight with a lot of medical complications. Let us know what you think about this, or anything else in the magazine, by sending an email.

Sincerely,
Stacey Butterfield
Editor-in-Chief