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A Columbia Journalism Review article today (Thursday) blames the news media and others for pushing a myth about the threat of fentanyl to firefighters, EMS, police and bystanders. Despite medical experts saying it’s not possible to absorb fentanyl through the skin, the stories persist. The article is written by Elizabeth Brico. Brico is an overdose survivor concerned that this misinformation will keep people from properly treating those who OD. I encourage you to read the entire story.
In 2017, law enforcement officials in Ohio were responding to an opioid overdose when one officer noticed a speck of white powder on his shirt and brushed it off. Within moments, the officer reported that he could feel his body “shutting down,” and was dosed with naloxone. The incident attracted coverage from a slew of media outlets including Inside Edition, NBC News, and The Washington Post, which were quick to report that the officer had overdosed on fentanyl.
Ryan Marino, an emergency medicine physician and toxicologist with the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, calls the Ohio story a “powder-keg moment.”
“It’s not possible through any normal means for fentanyl to be absorbed through the skin,” says Marino, who created the hashtag “WTFentanyl” as well as a Twitter guide detailing facts about fentanyl and ways to tell the difference between a true opioid overdose and a panic attack.