Family suing Yale New Haven Hospital launches fentanyl prevention website, says ‘never again’

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Using the motto “Never Again”, the family of William “Billy” Miller hopes to help prevent other families from losing a loved one to an opioid overdose.

According to a lawsuit filed by the family against the hospital, Miller had ingested a white powder suspected of being fentanyl. After being given a dose of naloxone, a drug that counteracts the effects of opioids, paramedics took him by ambulance to hospital, where he died after being left unattended for nearly seven hours, the lawsuit said. .

Yale New Haven Hospital spokeswoman Dana Marnane said the hospital has apologized to the family.

“However, even in the best organizations, gaps in care can occur. When they do, our goal is to recognize them, learn from them and ensure that we minimize any risk of them ever happening again. We have sincerely apologized to the patient’s family and are working on a resolution,” she said.

The family hopes to prevent such deaths in the future with the creation of billymiller.org.

The site, which is run by Rebecca Miller and Tina Darnstaedt, sister and mother of Billy Miller, went live earlier this year. Its mission statement details three initiatives: greater availability of fentanyl test strips, greater medical awareness, and legislative action.

Fentanyl, a potent narcotic, is sometimes found as a contaminant in illegally manufactured prescription and recreational drugs. Fentanyl test strips can detect the contaminant and potentially prevent someone from ingesting the contaminated drug.

“We are committed to making fentanyl test strips widely available to the public,” the website says. “We can’t stop young people from experimenting with drugs, but we can make it much, much safer by taking steps to prevent them from accidentally ingesting lethal doses of Fentanyl.”

The group operating the site said it plans to partner with nonprofit groups that distribute free fentanyl test strips and advocate to make test strips legal in all 50 states.

The group also hopes to educate doctors about the dangers of fentanyl and the limitations of using naloxone to treat it. Naloxone has a shorter duration than some opioids, which increases the risk of “re-narcotization” as its effects wear off, according to a study published by the National Library of Medicine.

Finally, the group advocates for legislation requiring hospitals to report fentanyl-related deaths that occur after an initial dose of naloxone.

“We would like poisoning deaths following a first dose of Naloxone to be added to the list of adverse events that must be reported to the DPH (Direction de la santé publique),” according to the site. “Until we have an idea of ​​the scale of the problem, it is difficult to determine the appropriate response.”

According to the website, Miller’s death came “at the intersection of many public health issues,” but the site notes that the outcome could have been very different.

“Billy should have been one of the lucky ones,” according to the site. “He received a life-saving dose of naloxone from paramedics. By the time he arrived at Yale New Haven Hospital by ambulance, he was walking, talking and texting his mother to tell her he was fine. It appeared that he had fully recovered from the fentanyl toxicity.

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