Death Due to the Fentanyl Patch

Misuse

The fentanyl patch must be handled with kid gloves. The patch contains such a strong ingredient that there are specific directions about how to handle the patch. According to the Mayo Clinic, if the patch is torn, the fentanyl may be released too quickly into the skin, creating a dangerous situation. Too much fentanyl released too soon may also occur if a person wears more than one patch at a time or applies patches without allowing time between applications.

Heat

The patch is very sensitive to heat, so avoid bathing in the hot sun or even taking a warm bath when wearing the patch. The heat can also cause medication to be absorbed into the skin too quickly, causing an overdose, according to Drugs.com.

Addiction

Fentanyl belongs to the same family of drugs as methadone and morphine. It is one of the most abused drugs in the world. According to the American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, most of the deaths are overdoses caused by deliberate misuse of the drug or from suicide. Fentanyl is also commonly abused because it is not detected in routine drug screenings.

Risks

The drug can be dangerous for those who simply haven't ever had exposure to narcotic medications in the past, according to Drugs.com. The fentanyl patch can boost the potential for life-threatening breathing problems. Slow or shallow breathing is usually the first sign of serious respiratory problems, a key cause of death in those who use the patch.

Effectiveness

Fentanyl works best and most safely when it is delivered via the patch through the skin and into the body gradually. Any time fentanyl is administered too quickly, either through accidental or deliberate misuse, there is the potential for it to be released into the body too quickly, a major cause of labored breathing and ultimately unconsciousness. Misuse can come from something as simple as touching the sticky side of the patch with your hand, which can cause the medicine to pass too quickly through the skin, according to the Mayo Clinic. Fentanyl is an opioid painkiller that is 100 times stronger than morphine, according to the American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology. As such, it should only be used for the most searing of pain that doesn't subside with the use of weaker pain relievers. It is commonly used to alleviate cancer pain. With its strength comes a lot of power, which can also make the drug, particularly in its easy-to-apply patch form, extremely dangerous if used improperly.