Study: Marijuana Use Associated With Decreased In-Hospital Mortality Among Burn Trauma Patients

Chapel Hill, NC: Burn trauma patients who test positive for marijuana upon hospital admission are less likely to die during hospitalization as compared to patients who test drug-negative, according to data published in the Journal of Burn Care & Research.

Investigators at the University of North Carolina Department of Surgery, Jaycee Burn Center assessed the relationship between marijuana use and in-hospital mortality in a cohort of 3,299 burn trauma patients hospitalized over a ten-year period.

Those subjects who tested marijuana-positive possessed a one percent in-hospital mortality rate. By contrast, drug-negative patients possessed a four percent mortality rate. Mortality was eight percent for those patients who tested positive for alcohol.

Marijuana-positive patients also had shorter ICU lengths of stay and induced lower overall hospital costs compared to drug-negative controls.

Authors concluded, “In our patient cohort, marijuana use appears to be protective in acute burn admissions, despite classic teaching that illicit drug use leads to poorer outcomes.”

The findings are consistent with prior studies reporting that cannabis use is associated with reduced in-hospital mortality among heart attack patients, those with traumatic brain injuries, those undergoing certain orthopedic surgeries, and those hospitalized with other forms of severe trauma.

For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: Full text of the study, “Marijuana use is protective in burns,” appears in the Journal of Burn Care & Research.