Pubdate: Wed, 28 Dec 2016
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 The Hamilton Spectator
Author: Molly Hayes
Page: A3


Hamilton's emergency rooms are bracing for the seemingly inevitable
arrival of carfentanil now that the deadly bootleg opioid is confirmed
to have made it to Ontario.

"We're just being precautionary," Dr. Bill Krizmanich, chief of
emergency medicine for Hamilton Health Sciences, said Tuesday.

"We don't know what to expect and that's what's a little bit

Carfentanil - 10,000 times more potent than morphine - was originally
developed as a tranquillizer for large animals.

It has been slowly popping up across Canada, predominantly out West,
though most recently in locations as close to Hamilton as Kitchener.

Even a few grains of the drug are enough to be lethal.

In a memo emailed to HHS emergency department staff last week,
Krizmanich stressed that this new drug poses a potential hazard to the
front-line health workers who may unknowingly come into contact with

It is an "extremely dangerous" drug, he writes.

In cases where a carfentanil overdose is expected, he instructs staff
to wear protective equipment including a face shield, mask, double
gloves and gown.

The patient's clothes must be removed and immediately double-bagged.
Then the patient's body is to be wiped down using cold water to clean
up any remaining drug residue.

The memo also stresses that naloxone kits - an opioid antidote
available free across the province to drug users and their loved ones
- - are futile in the face of this new drug.

The kits are "ineffective" for carfentanil ingestion because they
contain only 0.8 mg of the antidote, it reads.

This new drug could need as much as 10 mg in order to reverse the
effects of a carfentanil overdose.

Emergency room visits and 911 calls related to overdoses have been on
the rise, as opioid deaths continue to spike across the country. A
staggering 685 people are believed to have died last year in Ontario
alone - 19 of them were in Hamilton.

As of last month, Hamilton paramedics had responded to roughly 1,000
potential overdoses.

And in the first half of the year, there had already been more than
800 emergency room visits for opioids.
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