BACKGROUND: Although toxicologists, medical professionals, and service providers have determined that the risk of overdose from fentanyl exposure is extremely low for law enforcement and other first responders, hundreds of media and social media accounts contradict these facts, making these civil servants unnecessarily concerned about such occupational hazards.
METHODS: We conducted a qualitative study to explore knowledge and fear of fentanyl exposure by interviewing 23 law enforcement leaders and officers in five diverse law enforcement agencies in the United States.
RESULTS: Nearly all leaders and officers interviewed wrongly believed that dermal exposure to fentanyl was deadly and expressed fear about such exposure on scene. Officers had a lack of education about fentanyl exposure and faulty or dubious sources of information about it.
CONCLUSION: There is a substantial, pressing need for dissemination of research about the lack of overdose risk associated with dermal fentanyl exposure through channels that law enforcement trust, including through basic academy, in-service training, and law enforcement bulletins and newsletters.