Expert warns against Fentanyl patch misuse

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Expert warns against Fentanyl patch misuse

13th January 2012

A medical negligence expert has warned people using Fentanyl patches to be aware of the danger of overdosing, following the inquest of a grandmother who died when a hot bath caused her patch to deliver a fatal dose of medication.

Jacqui Hayat, a medical negligence expert at Fentons Solicitors LLP, said: “It is vitally important that anyone using Fentanyl, which is a powerful synthetic painkiller similar to but more potent than morphine, reads the patient information leaflets that come with their medicine.”

The 67-year-old woman - who had been using Fentanyl patches for chronic pain since 2002 - was killed minutes after getting into a hot bath at her Leicestershire home when the patch she was wearing delivered a fatal surge of medication after reacting with the heat of the water.

“Fentanyl is typically used to treat patients with severe pain, or to manage pain following surgery,” said Jacqui. “It is also sometimes used to treat people with chronic pain who have crucially become physically tolerant to high strength opiates.”

Although the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulations Authority (MHRA), advise against wearing the patches in the bath, prior to 2009, when the woman died, Fentanyl patch instructions did not specify it was dangerous to do so. They do now.

“The NHS warns users against chewing, cutting or dividing Fentanyl patches, letting anyone else use their patches, or using patches during or immediately after hot baths or showers,” said Jacqui. “The NHS states that it is important to always allow the skin to cool first and not to apply any direct heat such as water bottles or heat pads to the area where a patch is being worn.

“Fentanyl patches are not for occasional use,” added Jacqui. “They are only intended for treating persistent, moderate to severe pain in patients who are physically accustomed to taking regular, daily, around-the-clock narcotic pain medication. It is absolutely crucial that people follow the instructions as there is a very real risk of harm including severe, possibly fatal breathing problems if Fentanyl is abused, if the wrong dose is taken or if it is taken with other drugs that may also affect breathing.”

How can Fentons help?

Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims relating to Medical Negligence

If you think that you have a case or require further information, contact Fentons on 0800 019 1297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire