Unusual Fentanyl Patch Administration

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Fentanyl is an extremely potent narcotic analgesic that is becoming more popular as a drug of abuse. Because of the unique way in which the drug is packaged and delivered, the potential for unusual methods of abuse exists. We report the first case of true fentanyl patch ingestion in the medical literature. Initially, though unusual, cases of fentanyl ingestion were thought to have been reported, but further investigation of the literature revealed that in other case reports the patches had been held in the mouth and chewed. Because no reports of swallowing the patch had been published, suicide was initially a strong consideration in this case; however, further investigation showed that the decedent and his brother enjoyed swallowing the patches for quick “highs.” Cases such as these serve to remind medical examiners and law enforcement officials of the value of performing thorough death investigations by performing complete autopsies with toxicological testing and correlating with investigation information to form an opinion with regard to the cause and manner of death.

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