Summit Health implements new safety policies to limit workers’ risk of Carfentanil exposure
CHAMBERSBURG — Due to the emergence of the synthetic opioid Carfentanil in Pennsylvania, Summit Health is updating policies and equipment to ensure the safety of front-line staff members at its Chambersburg and Waynesboro facilities, the organization said in a press release Monday.
Originally intended to tranquilize elephants, Carfentanil is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and has proven to be lethal to humans, the news release said. A dose the size of five to seven grains of table salt can incapacitate an average sized man.
Because of its lethal nature, Carfentanil poses a potential risk — not only to those who use it, but to first responders and healthcare workers who may come into contact with it while treating patients, Summer Health’s news release said. The potential danger prompted a series of policy adjustments for Summit Health’s frontline staff.
Policy changes were communicated to staff last week, including adaptations to personal protection equipment (PPE) worn by clinical employees. Now staff treating anyone with a suspected opioid overdose are to wear a gown, gloves, goggles and a special mask that can filter particles out of the air.
“Our staff cannot be too careful when dealing with this dangerous substance and the fact that it is hard to see a particle of carfentanil on someone’s clothes presents our staff with additional challenges,” explained Waynesboro Hospital Emergency Department director Joe Nadzady. “We need to make sure we are able to offer the best care to our community, and protecting our caregivers is vital to us being able to help others.”