Extra care is needed because fentanyl is a high-alert medicine.
High-alert medicines have been proven to be safe and effective. But these medicines can cause serious injury if a mistake happens while taking them. This means that it is very important for you to know about this medicine and take it exactly as directed.
Top 10 List of Safety Tips for Fentanyl Patches
|Before you use the patches|
|1.||Use for long-term chronic pain only. Fentanyl patches should ONLY be used to treat long-term chronic pain by people who have previously taken high doses of prescription pain medicine (opioids) for 7 or more days without relief. Otherwise, the medicine can cause serious breathing problems.|
|Use intact patches.|
|2.||Use intact patches. Never cut the patches or use damaged patches (could result in an overdose).|
|3.||Avoid broken skin. Apply patches only on skin without cuts or sores.|
|When picking up the prescription|
|4.||Talk to your pharmacist. Tell your pharmacist the type of pain you are experiencing and any other pain medicines you have been taking and for how long.|
|While wearing a fentanyl patch|
|5.||Follow directions. Use the patches exactly as directed to prevent serious side effects. Do not use more patches than prescribed. Take off the old patch before applying a new patch.|
|6.||Do not warm your patches. While wearing a fentanyl patch, do not expose the site to heat from a heating pad, electric blanket, sauna, hot tub, heated waterbed, or excessive sun exposure. Also avoid tight coverings over the patch and strenuous exercise, which can heat the body. The body absorbs too much medicine with excessive heat.|
|7.||Don't wear during an MRI. Remove your patch before an MRI (a test that uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create images of what's inside the body) to avoid burns from hidden metal in the patch.|
|8.||Report signs of an overdose. Signs of fentanyl overdose include: trouble breathing, shallow or very slow breathing; tiredness, extreme sleepiness; inability to think, talk, or walk normally; and feeling faint, dizzy, or confused.|
|Storing and discarding the patches|
|9.||Store patches safely. Keep new patches far away from the reach or discovery of children. Do not let children see you apply patches or call them stickers, tattoos, or Band-Aids. This could attract children and encourage them to mimic your actions.|
|10.||Dispose of patches safely. Safely discard used or unneeded patches by folding the sticky sides together and flushing them down the toilet. Some of the medicine remains in each patch even after use, which could harm others who come into contact with it. As a precaution, this medicine is one of just a few medicines that the US Food and Drug Administration says must be flushed down the toilet for disposal rather than discarded in the trash.|
Used fentanyl patches still contain some medicine after you take them off. This is why it is important to always take off the old patch before placing a new one on your skin. If you don't, you could receive an overdose of the medicine.
Both new and used patches can also be dangerous to children or pets. In a tragic accident, a 4-year-old child died after placing a fentanyl patch on his body. His mother had been using fentanyl patches to treat pain from Crohn's disease, a digestive tract disorder. After she found her son dead, she also found a torn fentanyl patch wrapper in an overturned trashcan in her bedroom. It was not clear whether the boy stuck a used patch on his body or opened a new one and applied it.
Children have also been exposed to medicine patches that have fallen off a family member. One child sat on a fallen patch and it stuck to her thigh. Another child removed a patch while his grandmother was sleeping and put it on himself. In these cases, the patches were noticed quickly and the children were not injured.
See safety tips #9 and #10 for safe ways to store and discard patches.
|Common brand names||
|What to do if you miss a dose||
|Special instructions and precautions||
|Safety during pregnancy/breastfeeding||
|Tell your doctor if you have:||
|Storage and disposal||
|Side effects to report to your doctor immediately||
|Nonprescription medicines and herbals to avoid when using fentanyl patches||
|Prescription medicines that should not be taken when using fentanyl patches||
This information does not replace the need to follow your doctor's instructions and read the drug information leaflet provided with your prescription.
This project was supported by grant number R18HS017910 from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not represent the official views of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.