BALTIMORE (AP) — Funeral directors in Maryland are increasingly concerned their employees could be exposed to opioids. That’s why some are stocking naloxone, the medication the reverses the effects of an overdose.
The Baltimore Sun reported Friday that funeral directors are calling themselves the “last responders” to the opioid epidemic. The concern is that employees could come into contact with opioids on a dead person’s body or the clothes of a mourner.
Synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and carfentanil can be harmful if inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Federal officials say that brief skin contact with fentanyl or carfentanil isn’t likely to cause toxic effects if the area is promptly washed.
The National Funeral Directors Association is recommending members to prepare for the possibility that someone could suffer from exposure. The association has said that members should recognize overdose symptoms and train staff to administer naloxone.
Correction: In a story Oct. 6 about funeral homes stocking overdose medicine, The Associated Press reported erroneously that skin contact with certain opioids such as fentanyl or carfentanil in doses the size of a grain of salt can be deadly. The federal Office of National Drug Control Policy advises that incidental skin exposure is not likely to be harmful if the skin is promptly washed. The story also misspelled carfentanil.
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