Evaluating the Potential for Unintentional Occupational Exposure to Fentanyl and Fentanyl Analogues Among Medicolegal Death Investigators and Autopsy Technicians

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Recent increases in deaths in the United States from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and fentanyl analogues (fentanyls) have raised concerns about possible occupational exposures to these potent agents. Medicolegal death investigators and autopsy suite staff might perform job tasks involving exposure to fentanyls. The potential for exposure to fentanyls among medicolegal death investigators and autopsy technicians at a state medical examiner's office was evaluated through review of caseload characteristics, injury and illness logs, and procedures and policies and discussions with management and employee representatives. The evaluation showed that this medical examiner's office had low potential for work-related exposure to fentanyls; its standard operating procedures and personal protective equipment requirements should reduce the potential for occupational exposure. Medicolegal death investigation agencies can develop and implement guidance to control exposures and provide workforce education and training to reduce the potential for work-related exposure to fentanyls.