New Jersey Fentanyl Exposure Injury Lawyers

FentanylIn 2019, there were over 36,000 overdose deaths from drugs containing fentanyl.[1] Synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl, were the main driver of deaths from 2012 to 2019, seeing a 14-fold increase.[2]

Synthetic drugs are created using man-made chemicals and designed to resemble naturally occurring drugs, such as cocaine and morphine. They can be manufactured in someone’s basement, or in a laboratory. Manufacturers of synthetic drugs such as fentanyl intentionally change the chemical structure of the drug from time to time to avoid regulation and legal repercussions. They also market them as “not for human consumption” to circumvent drug laws. Unfortunately, in addition to those overdosing on fentanyl for personal consumption, there are accidental overdoses.

Fentanyl is a Powerful Pain Reliever

Fentanyl can be a prescription drug that a doctor may prescribe a patient for certain conditions. Fentanyl can also be made and used illegally. It has a variety of medical uses, including:

  • Treating people with severe pain, including advanced cancer pain.
  • Treating patients with end-of-life or hospice care.
  • Treating patients with pain after surgery.
  • Treating those with chronic pain who are physically tolerant to other opioids.

Fentanyl is 80 more potent than morphine. It is also hundreds of times more potent than heroin.[3] Fentanyl can be mixed and manufactured with other drugs such as heroin, methamphetamine, ecstasy. Many people are unaware that their drugs are laced with fentanyl. This leads them to take multiple doses of a mixed drug, which their bodies may have been able to consume without serious consequence if it was wholly made without fentanyl. After an overdose, a person’s breathing can slow or stop.

The first line of defense from which fentanyl can be stopped from entering and damaging communities is law enforcement. They are responsible for confiscating and seizing fentanyl in drug busts and for deterring drug trafficking. Without the proper precautions, police officers can expose themselves to dangerous, yet miniscule amounts of a drug that can lead to asphyxiation, and death.

Police Officers Can Accidentally Overdose

Police officers are known to get into harm’s way to protect other civilians. The rush to check or ID someone can be an Achilles heel, because they must navigate through other’s personal belongings. If the officer comes across fentanyl, there are a variety of ways that they can accidentally overdose, even without personally consuming the drug. Fentanyl can be “absorbed into the body through inhalation, oral exposure or ingestion, or skin contact.”[4] A lethal dose of fentanyl consists of two milligrams, the size of a few grains of salt. As such, they are often made into powder form. They can also be made into pills to look like real prescription opioids. It is often packaged in glassine bags or single dosage baggies. On a side note, police dogs and K-9s die every year due to absorbing fentanyl through their paws or inhaling it. It is therefore important that all emergency responders use the proper safety equipment when suspecting fentanyl. Even if you were not wearing personal protective equipment and you were exposed, a New Jersey fentanyl exposure injury lawyer can represent you. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance, so you may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.

Preventing Fentanyl Exposure

Emergency responders can prevent fentanyl exposure through taking different precautions, such as:

  • Wearing nitrile gloves and disposing of them after contamination.
  • Wearing respiratory protection such as a respirator when fentanyl is visible or suspected.
  • Avoiding performing tasks that could result in fentanyl becoming airborne, such as opening a plastic bag with fentanyl.
  • Avoiding touching eyes, nose, or mouth after touching a contaminated surface, even if gloves were previously worn.
  • Washing hands with copious amounts of soap and water after working in a contaminated area, even if gloves were worn. Do not use alcohol-based hand sanitizers as they may increase fentanyl absorption.
  • Having trained personnel able to administer Narcan, a medicine used to treat opioid overdoses, in the event of an emergency.[5]

Roadside Tests

If a police officer suspects a person is driving under the influence, they may administer a breathalyzer, used to detect, and measure the level of alcohol on a person’s breath. About non-alcoholic substances, there is no clear-cut method for determining drug levels in the body for road-side tests. Drug testing through urinalysis takes several days for results. As a result, the Montclair, NJ police department is using a variety of different methods for their own determination on whether a driver is under the influence of drugs such as opioids, inhalants, PCP, narcotics, hallucinates, or marijuana. One officer, for example, received a Drug Recognition Expert certification and now uses a 12-step process testing eye reflexes, attention span, blood pressure, heart rate, etc. during roadside tests.[6]

Recommendation for Those Pulled Over

It is imperative that when pulled over, if the police officer intends to search the vehicle, the driver or passenger of the vehicle with drugs communicates with the police officer(s) about the situation. It is important that they be upfront to the officer about what kind of drugs there are and where the drugs are being hidden. This simple notice can prevent serious injury or even save an officer’s life. Complying and being open with police is often the better way to go about.

Let Livingston DiMarzio Help You

At Livingston DiMarzio, our workers’ compensation lawyers can fight to obtain you workers’ compensation benefits which can cover time out of work, temporary benefits and medical expenses, and permanent injury. If you are an emergency responder and have accidentally overdosed on fentanyl through outside exposure, contact the Workplace Lawyers today at (973) 718-5173. Your recovery from injury can be assisted with the financial independence you deserve. Our attorneys have the skill to be able to take on the insurance companies at no charge to you unless you win.

[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, March 3). Drug Overdose Deaths. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 27, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/deaths/index.html.

[2] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2021, February 25). Overdose Death Rates. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved October 27, 2021, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates.

[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011, May 12). Fentanyl: Incapacitating Agent. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 27, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/ershdb/emergencyresponsecard_29750022.html.

[4] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011, May 12). Fentanyl: Incapacitating Agent. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 27, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/ershdb/emergencyresponsecard_29750022.html.

[5] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, February 11). Fentanyl: Emergency responders at risk. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 27, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/fentanyl/risk.html.

[6] Winters, J. J. (2018, June 7). Street fentanyl takes Montclair Drug Enforcement to new level. Montclair Local. Retrieved October 27, 2021, from https://www.montclairlocal.news/2018/06/07/fentanyl-montclair-police-drugs/.

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