Fentanyl Patch Fatalities
  • Mon, 06/18/2012 - 2:24pm

In the past 15 years, 26 children have suffered accidental exposure to fentanyl patches, according to the FDA and the Institute for Safe Medicine Practices. Of those 26 instances, 10 children died and 12 required hospitalization, according to the FDA’s website.
WebMD states that fentanyl patches are prescription opioid analgesics, or painkillers, that relieve moderate to severe ongoing pain for people suffering life-threatening diseases like cancer. The FDA approved the fentanyl patch in 1990 for people who with persistent severe pain despite using a strong opioid narcotic around-the-clock for at least a week. According to the FDA’s website, the Duragesic patch releases medicine over three days.
Children can become sick or die if the adhesive patch sticks to the child’s skin or if it is accidentally swallowed. Often, children find patches that were not properly disposed of or were stored where a child could reach them. With that in mind, the FDA recommends:

  • keeping fentanyl patches and other drugs out of children’s sight and reach. Toddlers may think the patch is a sticker, tattoo or bandage;
  • covering the fentanyl patch with an adhesive film to make sure the patch doesn’t come peel off of your body; and
  • regularly touching the patch or looking at it to ensure that it’s still in place.

The Institute for Safe Medical Practices reports a case about a mother who has suffered the loss of her young child due to this issue with fentanyl patches.
The FDA also recommends disposing of used patches by folding them in half so that the sticky sides meet, and then flushing them down a toilet. Do not throw them in the trash where children or pets can find them.
The signs of a fentanyl overdose include:

  • difficulty breathing (slow or shallow breathing)
  • clammy skin
  • lethargy
  • faintness or dizziness
  • confusion

If you suspect your child has any or all of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

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About the Contributor

Kaitlin Gill
Cleveland
I report on news regarding product safety concerns for individuals and families.

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