ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The St. Louis area remains a hotbed for methamphetamine use and production, judging by the number of patients being hospitalized for burns suffered during production of the drug.

Dr. Michael Smock, Director of the burn center at Mercy Hospital, says it is difficult to come up with an exact number of patients the hospital treats due to meth lab burns because few patients admit that’s how it happened.

Still, he has an educated guess.

“We typically admit 200 to 220 patients to the burn center a year, approximately. I would say that we’re still seeing upwards of 20 to 30, maybe more than that, patients a year admitted to the hospital with serious burns from meth labs,” Smock said. “And then we take care of several hundred other patients in our office who never require hospitalization in the burn center.”

Some of those hospitalized patients remain there up to six months with hospital costs sometimes exceeding one million dollars. Smock says most have no insurance which leaves Mercy and its doctors eating the bill.

“It’s simply provided by the hospital and myself and my partners will no reimbursement,” he added.


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