New Laws Mean More Schools Will Use EpiPens in Allergic Emergencies

by Bettina Elias Siegel on February 13, 2012

In this age of rising food allergies and peanut-free schools, I’d long assumed that all school nurses around the country must have EpiPens on hand in case of emergency.

But when a seven-year-old, peanut-allergic girl tragically died in Virginia last month due to a lack of an EpiPen, I was shocked to learn that most schools will only administer the life-saving medication if supplied by the parents of the child in question.   That is to say, if the nurse has an EpiPen belonging to another child, technically he or she is not supposed to administer it to a different child — even in an emergency.

That situation might be about to change, however.  Check out this informative Education Week post by Nirvi Shah detailing legislative activity in Chicago, Virginia —  and the U.S. Senate — which should make EpiPens more likely to be used to prevent fatal allergic reactions at school.

 

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeanne @JollyTomato February 13, 2012 at 11:28 am

Thanks for the update, Bettina. You’d think that common sense would dictate that this would be law already, but as we know, it takes a long time for policies to catch up with common sense.
Oh, and nice hat tip to my alma mater, Education Week! (I was a reporter there in the 90s)
Best,
Jeanne

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Alicia February 13, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Having a child with a severe dairy allergy, I would welcome this. We keep an epi-pen at his school, but I’d like to think that all kids have this protection. Sometimes it’s not known that a child has an allergy, like a first bee sting reaction. I think all parents should want this for their school. Epi-pens don’t cost that much, in comparison to a defibbulator, for example, which most schools have. A child’s life is certainly worth it.

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Timmi February 13, 2012 at 4:58 pm

The school where my aunt works at has epi-pens stocked but they have to be locked up in a box high on a shelf with the keys like so many feet away, according to some government regulations or something (I honestly can’t remember) she tried to fight this saying the kid would probably be in severe trouble by the time the pen is retrieved. But I’m glad the laws are going in the right direction because some parents don’t know their kid has an allergy and it just comes on sudden they aren’t going to have a pen for their kid to use

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Greta February 15, 2012 at 7:28 pm

There’s an excellent, very readable book called “Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl” written by a woman with multiple life-threatening food allergies. She has, of course, an epi-pen but prefers not to use it. I don’t want to misconstrue her arguments, but I believe that here she would make a case that an epi-pen is not the 100 percent solution for food allergies in the cafeteria.

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Bettina Elias Siegel February 16, 2012 at 12:06 pm

My sister-in-law, parent of a food allergic child and active in this area, also recommended that book! I need to get my hands on a copy. Thanks for reminding me about it.

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