The Fentanyl Patch: What You Should Know
One man’s very painful journey into being incorrectly prescribed the fentanyl patch after a surgeon’s serious mistake, and then suffering from additional medical malpractice, is one that we can all learn from.
After mistakes made during a rectal repair procedure caused permanent nerve damage in his feet, a pain specialist introduced him to the fentanyl patch because no other pain treatment helped him cope with the nerve pain. The fentanyl patch is designed for people who need something stronger than a typical opioid medication, as it supposed to provide pain relief around the clock via a skin patch that allows the medication to be directly absorbed into the bloodstream. However, it is imperative that doctors run certain tests before prescribing it, as it can also inflict severe damage onto other organs such as the pancreas.
Negligent Warning Labels
Perhaps of most concern is the fact that the patch is missing some fairly crucial details on its packaging: While it tells users not to take other medications or drink while using the patch, it does not explain that body heat causes the fentanyl to be more quickly absorbed into the bloodstream.
In this case, the patient’s body heat caused the fentanyl to be absorbed into his bloodstream too quickly, leading to multiple trips to the emergency room due to the withdrawal his body was experiencing after the drug ran out too quickly. The issue—which no doctor or specialist was able to figure out at the time—caused him to lose 60 pounds and left him in a constant state of sickness and what appeared to be new symptoms linked to exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.
The Importance of Thorough Testing Prior To Prescription
The cause of all of his problems? Opiate prescriptions. The fentanyl prescription aggravated an underlying pancreatic condition, throwing his body into a revolt against him. It is (supposed to be) common knowledge that opiates aggravate and sometimes even cause severe a form of irritable bowel, and can also aggravate existing pancreatic conditions, therefore, why wasn’t this patient first checked for pancreatic conditions before being prescribed fentanyl?
Withdrawal & Why Some Never Prescribe Fentanyl
In addition, once fentanyl is prescribed to a patient, they can go through severe withdrawal symptoms if not waned off the drug properly. Many require an in-patient program, and still go through chills, irritability, nausea, pain, stomach cramps, vomiting, and more.
That left this patient—permanently injured after surgery—with the choice of either suffering from severe nerve pain after the botched surgery, or an aggravated pancreatic condition because of the effects of fentanyl on the pancreas. For these reasons, some pain management specialists even refuse to prescribe fentanyl in the first place.
Florida Medical Malpractice Attorneys
If you or a loved one has been injured by a mistake made during surgery or a prescription that should not have been given, contact us at Lavalle, Brown & Ronan today to find out how we can help.