Nevada commission recommends hospitals add fentanyl to standard drug screening

Published: Dec. 14, 2022 at 11:12 PM PST
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - A new recommendation by the Executive Committee to Review the Death of Children is calling on Nevada hospitals to test for fentanyl, as overdoses from the synthetic drug continue to rise.

The committee said delayed testing causes a delay in the right treatment or services available. Currently, a request to test for fentanyl has to be sent off and can take a few days to have results returned.

“A lot of times when the kids or adults are getting drugs they have no clue it’s fentanyl,” founder of Moms Against Drugs Debi Nadler said. “So if they simply go to the hospital, the hospital gives them Narcan and shoos them out the door. They wouldn’t have known that they god forbid could have died.”

Nadler lost her son to an overdose and started the group Moms Against Drugs with Juli Shamash from California. Juli’s son Tyler died of a fentanyl overdose. He had previously been to the hospital but was never tested for fentanyl because it’s not one of the federal five drugs that are on standard toxicology screenings.

This year California lawmakers passed Tyler’s Law, which now requires fentanyl testing in the standard drug panel.

Nadler said it can be dangerous to not test for the synthetic opioid.

“If you have a heavy dose of fentanyl and you don’t overdose the hospital administering the Narcan needs to keep an eye on them longer, because the effects are still in their system,” Nadler said.

Graph shows Clark County Fentanyl deaths in recent years
Graph shows Clark County Fentanyl deaths in recent years(FOX5)

In Clark County alone Fentanyl claimed the lives of 191 people in 2020 and 225 in 2021. Just halfway through this year, 110 people died from fentanyl overdoses.

Nadler said adding the testing is just one example of simple change state leaders could put into law that would help combat the overdose epidemic.

Nadler is also advocating for making it a requirement for all schools in the state to have Narcan on campus.

A UMC spokesperson said Fentanyl is already included in the hospital’s standard drug testing panel.