When three nurses woke up to find themselves admitted to the hospital, they wondered how they got there since the last thing they remembered doing was “cleaning the patients’ rooms at the Affinity Medical Centre.”

It was discovered that all three nurses passed out after they were exposed to fentanyl while assisting opioid addicts, at the Affinity Medical Centre, in Ohio. Detective Shaun Dadisman, who worked on this case remarked that “it was very likely that the nurses had gone into overdose state themselves.”

Fentanyl: A growing problem

Law enforcement and medical personnel have been finding it difficult to deal with the problems that fentanyl and other opioids have caused. So much so that they are forced to now come up with new policies and protocols to help resolve these problems.

Considered as a dangerous drug, fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin, and is used as a painkiller. A small dose of fentanyl – as little as 0.002g – can be lethal. It is able to make the body stop breathing and the respiratory system to stop functioning.

Ultimately, these nurses had to be treated with naloxone, which effectively reverses overdoses within minutes by blocking the brain’s opioid receptors.

Providing further insights into the case, Dadisman said, “[Fentanyl] shuts down your system so you get to the point where you’re not breathing on your own. And you need that boost; and that [naloxone] is what takes that away so it helps you to recover quickly.”

It has been reported that these three nurses were not the only ones affected by fentanyl. There are other cases, including one where SWAT officers had to be admitted to the hospital after coming in contact with fentanyl after a drug raid.

Secondary fentanyl overdoses

Dadisman opined that it is going to be difficult for those, who are working to fix this serious issue. He added that first responders, police officers and nurses should be equipped to face the situation by wearing gloves and masks.

But sometimes even gloves and masks can’t prevent accidental overdoses from taking place. For instance, Officer Chris Green almost died when his shirt accidentally ended up with a suspicious white substance – while he was searching a suspected drug addict’s car.

Despite wearing gloves and a mask, Officer Green overdosed and had to be revived with several doses of naloxone. This is not just a simple and careless accident – it is an action that could cost lives – the lives of people that are here to help.

Medical experts are in view of that there are more likely going to be cases of secondary fentanyl overdoses, which includes instances whereby fentanyl has been ingested by accident. Experts have also pointed out that fentanyl is deadly only if it is ingested, and not through skin contact.

Doctor, and toxicologist at the University of Toronto, Dr David Juurlink commented, “I don’t doubt that a police officer who’s felt unwell after casual skin contact might believe he or she was poisoned. Nonetheless, I think it’s much more likely to represent the ‘nocebo effect’ – the idea is that people will develop symptoms if they think they’ve been exposed to something. MIMS

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