Saturday, April 4, 2009
March 27, 2009. By Jane Mundy
Richmond, RI: "My brother was prescribed fentanyl patches for severe back pain and throat cancer," says Michael. "He was on conventional opiates for a long time but he was prescribed the fentanyl patches on July 10, 2007. The next day my mother found him dead."
Michael says Patrick, his brother, had a tracheotomy and his prognosis was good. After the surgery Patrick went to rehab in the hospital for a few weeks and was released from rehab around 10am—he filled the fentanyl prescription at the pharmacy the same day. "Patrick must have put his patch on shortly afterward," says Michael. "My mother went into his room to wake him up the next morning because he had a follow-up appointment with the doctor—she found him dead.
If only we knew about the dangers of this Duragesic patch at that time…
That morning I received a frantic call from my niece, Barbara. 'Uncle Pat has something wrong with him,' she said. 'The paramedics are here and they are trying to revive him,' she told me, frantically. He had no pulse and no heartbeat. Just a few days earlier I had talked to him. Patrick's hopes of recovery were high and he was in a good space of mind. I got him to pray with me and it was like he was given a second chance. His prognosis was good and the cancer was in remission—they had removed it all.
That morning, after I received the call, I went over to my mother's house; I was in shock. By the time I got there, the paramedics had taken Patrick to the hospital: He was dead on arrival.
When I got to their house, I don't know what made me do this, but I went through his room-- I was looking for answers. I was having a conversation with my mother who was very upset of course: We couldn't figure out what happened and guessed that maybe he choked on something. But what really happened was this: I found the fentanyl patches; I found one in his bed that was used and the rest in the Duragesic patch box on his dresser. I don't know if it fell off when they were trying to revive him or before that, but I took this one used patch and put it in a plastic baggie along with the rest of the patches and I took them home with me.
I put the patches in my lock box and they remained there until about five months ago. I was sitting at home watching TV and saw an ad about fentanyl patches. An attorney in Texas was explaining how they had killed people and it hit me like a ton of bricks—my stomach just dropped.
We were trying to get an autopsy report on my brother for a period of 16 months. We always got the same answers at the coroner's office: they were backed up and months behind on getting the final report on his death. Patrick's death certificate didn't have a cause of death; it was blank. The autopsy report couldn't concur with the death certificate because it took so long. They kept saying the reports were not done so we didn’t have any closure. The doctor at the hospital wouldn't talk to us either.
Then I saw the ad on TV. I researched the Internet and found an attorney at LawyersandSettlements. I explained to him that my brother had died, we didn't know why he died and we needed some closure. He got the autopsy report, after 16 months. It said 'acute opiate poisoning, respiratory failure resulting in an accidental death'.
I was able to preserve the patch and I sent it to my attorney; the dates on the package fall within the dates of the recall. This fentanyl patch leaked and that's what I believe killed him. And that is what my lawyer believes.
Patrick was only 47 years old when he died and his daughter is only 13. I am so angry about it. Something that was supposed to help ended up killing my brother."
See also: Leaky patches recalled: