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Indiana medics turning to laughing gas as painkiller instead of opioids

FISHERS, Ind. (AP) — Paramedics in an Indianapolis suburb will begin providing laughing gas instead of powerful opioid painkillers to patients.

Fishers officials say the use of nitrous oxide is expected to reduce the amount of fentanyl administered to injured patients by about two-thirds.

Fishers Fire Capt. John Mehling tells The Indianapolis Star using the gas commonly given in dentist offices will reduce the risk of addiction and harmful side effects with fentanyl.

Mehling says emergency workers will only use nitrous oxide for injuries such as broken bones, while still giving fentanyl to patients with abdominal pain, head injuries and collapsed lungs.

Fire Chief Steve Orusa said patients must be alert enough to administer the laughing gas to themselves through a breathing mask or tube.

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