The treatment of patients with intravenous drug use (IVDU) has evolved to include a wide range of medications, psychiatric rehabilitation, and surgical interventions, especially for life-threatening complications such as infective endocarditis (IE). These interventions remain at the discretion of physicians, particularly surgeons, whose treatment decisions are influenced by several medical factors, unfortunately not without bias. The stigma associated with substance use disorder is prevalent, which leads to significant biases, even in the healthcare system. This bias is heightened when IVDU patients require repeat valve replacement surgeries for IE due to continued drug use. Patients who receive a valve replacement and continue to use illicit drugs intravenously often return to their medical providers, months to a few years later, with a reinfection of their bioprosthetic valve; such patients require additional surgeries which are at the center of many ethical discussions due to high mortality rates, for many complex medical and social reasons, associated with continuous chemical dependency after surgical interventions. This chapter examines the ethics of repeat heart valve replacement surgery for patients who are struggling with addiction. Considerations of justice, the fiduciary therapeutic relationship, and guiding ethical principles justify medically beneficial repeat heart valve replacement surgeries for IVDU patient populations.
Part of the book: Advanced Concepts in Endocarditis