BALTIMORE (WJZ) — MedStar Health’s three Baltimore City hospitals are the first hospitals in Maryland to offer patients in the emergency department free test kits to detect fentanyl- a synthetic opioid fueling fatal drug overdoses.
The kits, which are available as of Monday, are part of a larger effort by MedStar Health to identify patients at risk of drug overdose and pair them with a peer recovery coach who can connect the patient with recovery resources, they said in a press release.
Fentanyl can be added to heroin, cocaine or pills without the person being able to detect it, is linked to most drug overdose deaths in Maryland, according to the Maryland Department of Health.
It was linked to 1,888 overdose deaths in Maryland in 2018, with 2,143 opioid overdose deaths overall, according to the MDH.
Baltimore City had 758 deaths linked to fentanyl in 2018, the largest number in any part of the state.
So far, MedStar Health has bought 2,000 test kits to distribute and says they will continue the program if supplies run out.
Patients can take a small portion of the drug substance and mix it with fluid in a tube, dipping the test strip inside. They do not say how much fentanyl is present, but it does give a positive or negative result.