Experts doubt woman's overdose claim from picking up $1 at McDonald's

·3-min read

Authorities and experts have cast doubt on a woman's claim she nearly died from a fentanyl overdose after allegedly coming into contact with the substance when picking up a dollar bill off the ground.

Renee Parsons in the US picked up the note off the floor of a McDonald's restaurant in Tennessee on Sunday.

Once back in the car she grabbed a wipe to clean her hands and suddenly felt numb, passed out and had to be rushed to hospital.

It took her a few hours after taking medication for her to "feel somewhat normal again".

Renee Parsons claims she had a reaction when she picked up a $1 bill, stirring claims it was laced with fentanyl. Source: Renee Parsons
Renee Parsons claims she had a reaction when she picked up a $1 bill, stirring claims it was laced with fentanyl. Source: Renee Parsons

In a Facebook post Ms Parson shared as a cautionary tale for not picking up money off the ground, she claimed the police suggested fentanyl was on the dollar bill.

"The police officer that came to take our report told us it was one of two things; either the dollar bill was accidentally dropped and it had been used to cut and or store the drugs or it was purposely left with drugs on it," she wrote.

Responding officer saw 'no evidence' of a crime

Fact-checking website Snopes ascertained the officer that attended the hospital from the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department concluded "this would not have been a fentanyl overdose".

The officer asked Ms Parsons if she was given Narcan at the hospital, which is a medication used to reverse the effects of opioids. However, she told the officer she didn't receive Narcan, Snopes reported.

The officer did inspect the dollar bill Ms Parsons picked up at the McDonald's, however, the officer did not see any residue which would indicate any sort of drug was on it.

The police said there was no evidence of fentanyl residue on the dollar bill. Source: Renee Parsons
The police said there was no evidence of fentanyl residue on the dollar bill. Source: Renee Parsons

The dollar bill was disposed of without being tested, as there was no evidence of a crime being committed.

Experts doubt fentanyl was involved

Local news station WSMV reported Ms Parsons did have paperwork from the hospital that showed she had an accidental overdose, and her husband reportedly had symptoms after Ms Parsons touched him.

However, experts are not convinced fentanyl was involved.

“I think it is really unlikely the substance this lady got into her system is fentanyl based on the symptoms she had,” Vanderbilt University Medical Center fentanyl expert Dr Rebecca Donald told the news station.

A reporter holds up an example of the amount of fentanyl
Fentanyl can be deadly, however, someone is unlikely to overdose by simply touching the substance. Source: AP

She added that it is more likely Ms Parsons had some sort of reaction to a drug if she inadvertently rubbed her nose, licked her fingers or rubbed her eyes.

Fentanyl can be deadly, even in small doses, however, Oregon Health and Science University professor, Dr Todd Korthuis, told Snopes the risk of fentanyl exposure through the skin is extremely low.

Dr Ryan Marino, medical director of Toxicology & Addiction at University Hospitals Cleveland, also previously told Reuters you cannot overdose just by simply touching fentanyl or another opioid.

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