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Fentanyl Tops List of Drugs Found in Baltimore Overdose Patients, Study Finds

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- A new University of Maryland study found fentanyl is the leading drug detected in overdose patients at two Baltimore hospital emergency departments.

According to researchers, the finding suggests that hospitals and medical systems throughout the United States consider adding fentanyl to their routine drug testing panels.

Currently, fentanyl is not routinely included in these panels nationwide.

The study's lead author Zachary D.W. Dezman, MD, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, UMSOM and emergency physician at the University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown, issued the following statement:

"The overdose cases we see in our emergency departments stem from a wide variety of substances that may not be known and present increasingly complex treatment challenges. In the case of fentanyl, without knowing its true role in these overdoses, public health officials and policy makers will find it difficult to implement the correct measures to improve patient care and help prevent substance abuse."

Fentanyl was the most prevalent drug identified in the study. It was detected in 73 to 87 percent of specimens that were tested for the substance in each of the four calendar quarters in 2019.

Sixty-one percent of the fentanyl positive specimens contained other drugs in addition to fentanyl, while 13 percent contained fentanyl only.

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