Family blames fentanyl patch for child’s overdose death

by Heygood Orr and Pearson

The family of a 12 year old Missouri girl who died last week is blaming the girl’s death on an accidental fentanyl overdose. Destiny Spitler died in her sleep after coming into contact with a fentanyl pain patch that had been discarded by her grandmother.

Fentanyl is an extremely powerful opioid painkiller that is about 100 times more potent than morphine. The drug is frequently prescribed in the form of a transdermal patch, which is sold generically or under the brand name Duragesic. Fentanyl can also be prescribed in the form of a lollipop called Actiq or a nasal spray called Lazanda.

According to a police investigation, Destiny’s grandmother, Diana Spitler, was prescribed a fentanyl pain patch in order to treat chronic back pain. Authorities believe that after Diana Spitler had discarded one of her fentanyl patches, Destiny removed the patch from the trash and placed it on her body. The girl was found with a fentanyl patch on her leg when she was found dead by investigators.

Proper disposal of a fentanyl patch is important because of the extreme potency of this medication. Experts say that even after a fentanyl patch has been used, the product still contains a significant amount of fentanyl gel. Because of the overdose risk these products can carry for children—who may place them on their skin, thinking that the patch is a sticker—patients must be careful to dispose of fentanyl in a way that it will not be accidentally discovered by a young child.