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In the Wrong Hands: Doctor discusses how to treat children overdosing on drugs

An in-depth look after a local child overdosed
Overdose Deaths
Posted at 5:46 PM, Nov 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-26 18:11:12-05

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — A one-year-old child in Cape Coral was rushed to the emergency room after overdosing on his parent's illegal drugs.

It’s a small window of opportunity for doctors to save someone who is overdosing on drugs, and for a child, the time to act gets even smaller.

“It’s not until the pill is actually absorbed and starts having the effect on the child that it is even noticed,” said Dr. Timothy Dougherty.

Dougherty is the Medical Director for the Emergency Department at Cape Coral Hospital.

On Friday, he told Fox 4 it doesn't take much for a prescription pill to have deadly consequences for a child.

“There are certain blood pressure medications, just one tablet can kill a child. Obviously, pain killers are another medication that can be deadly to a child,” said Dougherty.

For doctors, the situation became a reality after a one-year-old in cape coral overdosed on his parent's illegal drugs.

So we asked doctor Dougherty if medications such as Narcan which is used to prevent an overdose caused by painkillers or fentanyl is safe to use on children.

“There is no such thing as giving too much Narcan in this setting when the goal is to first start breathing get oxygen back to the brain but also be awake enough so they aren’t going to aspirate,” he said.

If a child is overdosing on either pain killers or fentanyl, he says Narcan will get them breathing again within 30 seconds.

Dougherty says, unfortunately, he is seeing more kids in his ER who have gotten a hold of dangerous drugs.

“It’s not a daily occurrence but it is a frequent occurrence,” said Dougherty.

He says it is something parents need to be on the lookout for especially when older relatives come to visit.

“So when family members come down to visit their grandparents or other relatives come to Florida that’s when we see an uptick, especially around the holidays," said Dougherty.

Dougherty says parents should remember to lock up all medications and make sure they are placed out of reach.