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Expert discusses process to test for fentanyl in overdose patients

Midland Memorial Hospital sees a mix of drugs when screening for opioids.

MIDLAND, Texas — With the current opioid crisis affecting not just the Midland and Odessa area, but all of West Texas, many are wondering how our first responders are responding.

So far, there have been just two fentanyl seizures by Midland first responders between Jan. 1 and Sept. 22 of this year, according to a city document obtained by NewsWest 9. This number may not seem that high, but due to limitations in testing, it could actually be higher than records show.

Dr. Kit Bredimus, chief nursing officer at Midland Memorial Hospital, said fentanyl isn’t the only opioid that the hospital looks for when a potential overdose patient arrives at their door.

“So when we see a patient comes in with a potential overdose, we immediately go through the entire litany of tests, opiates being one of them," Bredimus said. "But also, you know, amphetamines, PCP, there’s a lot of different things that could be, and those are just our illicit drugs. There is also over-the-counter and various other substances that we test for that we need to start looking at.”

Along with opiates, other drugs that doctors will screen for include cannabis and benzos, which will show up after a doctor takes both a urine and drug test from the patient.

Fentanyl, however, is included in the opiate family, meaning doctors can’t test for fentanyl specifically.

“When you test for fentanyl, it is actually an opiate," Bredimus said. "So we can’t test for fentanyl specifically on a routine basis. You would test for opiates because the treatment would be the naloxone. Once you give them naloxone, it doesn’t matter if it’s fentanyl, morphine, hydrocodone, the varied litany of different ones. Once you give that then you start to see a positive effect.”

Most overdose cases come from people who may not have even known what they took.

“Many cases that we see, there’s individuals who took something from a friend or a family member that wasn’t quite sure what it was, and then we have to go on the backside try to chase down what that might be through various different treatments,” Bredimus said.

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