Duragesic patches were initially indicated for postoperative and chronic cancer pain, but are no longer indicated due to the common occurrence of respiratory depression
What’s the problem?
Side effects of Duragesic are consistent with its narcotic nature and include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and constipation. Mose serious side effects include hypoventilation and cardiovascular collapse when used by those with low tolerance. It can quickly lead to a fatal hypoxic situation if not closely monitored.
One of the main problems with fentanyl is the window between an effective therapeutic dose and that of an overdose. When fentanyl is used in a controlled hospital environment, hypoxia can be quickly recognized and detected; however, when fentanyl is abused outside of the hospital, fatal outcomes are much more likely.
More prominent drugs have constantly overshadowed Duragesic abuse, but the alarming increase of abuse and overdose of fentanyl is a warning for healthcare professionals. Emergency departments are reporting a large number of Duragesic overdoses by oral ingestion rather than transdermal. When a patch is altered, a large dose of medication can be obtained in gel form, resulting in 72 hours worth of fentanyl being ingested in a single setting.
Identification of Duragesic overdoses may be relatively simple or difficult due to absence of the patch (oral ingestion) or evidence of drug paraphernalia. Symptoms are typical of any narcotic overdose, and a careful assessment with standard altered-level-of-consciousness treatment will adequately mitigate these cases.