New bill introduced to give students right to carry emergency meds

Posted on: Fri, 05/16/2003 - 5:12pm
Nutternomore's picture
Joined: 08/02/2002 - 09:00

Federal Lawmakers Take Action to Protect Students' Rights To Carry Emergency Medicines in School

New Legislation Introduced at Annual Asthma Awareness Day
Addresses a Critical Need

FAIRFAX, Va., May 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Today Representatives Cliff Stearns of
Florida and Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island introduced legislation to provide
incentives to states to help guarantee the rights of students to carry and
treat themselves with prescribed lifesaving asthma and anaphylaxis medications
while at school or school-sponsored functions. This announcement coincides
with the sixth annual Asthma Awareness Day Capitol Hill, a national
educational event sponsored by the Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of
Asthmatics (AANMA).
The bill aims to ensure that students can carry and self-administer
potentially life-saving medicines to treat emergency conditions such as asthma
and severe allergic reactions, or anaphylaxis, at school. The vast majority
of schoolchildren with asthma and/or anaphylaxis are currently mandated to
attend schools in the 26 states where no state statute protects their rights
to a safe and healthy learning experience. The legislation introduced today
would provide incentives for state legislatures to address this issue.
"State statutes that fail to protect the rights of children to carry their
lifesaving medications put young lives at risk," commented Nancy Sander,
president and founder of AANMA. "They also undermine the physician-patient
relationship by contradicting the doctor's instructions for students to carry
emergency medications with them at all times. The solution to this problem
requires both federal and state action, and we applaud Representatives Stearns
and Kennedy for taking the lead to effect change."
Asthma affects nearly five million children in the United States, causes
more than 5,000 deaths a year and is the leading cause of missed school days
nationwide. Many children with asthma also suffer from severe allergies that
can lead to anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction that can be exacerbated
by a student's asthma. An estimated 1.6 million school-age children have food
allergies -- the most common trigger for anaphylaxis -- and approximately one
in five of them will experience a reaction at school. Because an asthma
attack or an anaphylactic reaction can jeopardize a patient's life in a matter
of minutes, timely administration of medication is critical. Children need to
be able to carry these lifesaving medications with them at all times to help
guarantee immediate treatment at the first sign of symptoms and prevent a
potentially fatal emergency.
Currently, state statutes regarding emergency medicines in schools vary
widely. Only 9 states allow for both inhalers and epinephrine auto-injectors
in school (NJ, MA, LA, GA, WI, IL, KY, IN, IA). In addition to these 9,
11 more states have developed statutes protecting children's rights to carry
asthma inhalers in schools, but do not allow epinephrine auto-injectors to be
carried (states include NY, FL, TX, OH, MI, OR, MN, MO, VA, RI and DE). The
New Hampshire and Mississippi state legislatures, two of four states with
pending legislation, made marked progress this week by passing bills that
would allow students to carry and self-administer medications for both asthma
and anaphylaxis. New Hampshire will be the first state to also allow children
to carry and self-administer these medications while at camp.
In many instances, all medicines -- including inhalers and epinephrine
auto-injectors -- are required to be locked in a nurse's or administrator's
office. For children at risk for an asthma attack or anaphylaxis, however,
there may not be enough time to retrieve even an inhaler or epinephrine
auto-injector from the school nurse's office. If enacted, today's legislation
will encourage uniform standards across the country and help ensure the safety
of children with asthma and anaphylaxis during the school day.

About the Legislation
The legislation enjoys bipartisan support and the endorsement of numerous
lay and professional organizations dedicated to the health and safety of
American schoolchildren. Some of the organizations joining AANMA in their
endorsement of the legislation include: the American College of Allergy,
Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and
Immunology (AAAAI), the National Association of School Nurses (NASN), the
American Association for Health Education, the American Autoimmune Related
Diseases Association, the American College of Chest Physicians, the
Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs, the Asthma and Allergy
Foundation of America (AAFA) and the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network

About Asthma Awareness Day Capitol Hill
Asthma Awareness Day Capitol Hill is a national educational event in
Washington, D.C. The day provides a public forum in which lawmakers address
issues affecting people with asthma and allergies. A press conference will be
held to announce Representatives Stearns and Kennedy's legislation in the
Cannon Caucus Room from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the Cannon House Office
Building on Capitol Hill. In addition, the Allergy & Asthma Expo and Asthma
Screening will take place in the Columbus Club at Union Station from 9:00 a.m.
to 1:00 p.m. The Asthma Screening kicks off the American College of Allergy,
Asthma and Immunology's Nationwide Asthma Screening Program and is one of the
first of more than 300 free screenings at locations across the country to help
adults and children find out if they are at risk of asthma.

Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA) is a nonprofit
membership organization dedicated to eliminating suffering and death due to
asthma and allergies through education, advocacy, community outreach, and
research. Founded in 1985, AANMA reaches families around the country with
medical news, emotional support, and practical strategies for overcoming
asthma and allergies.
For more information, please visit [url=""][/url]

SOURCE Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics
Web Site: [url=""][/url]

Posted on: Fri, 05/16/2003 - 11:53pm
MommaBear's picture
Joined: 09/23/2002 - 09:00

Disclaimer: I am not offering advice in any manner or form. Merely humming loudly.

Posted on: Wed, 05/28/2003 - 3:42am
KatiesMom's picture
Joined: 03/01/2000 - 09:00

What I found interesting in the article is that it says New York does not allow epi-pens to be carried in school. We live in upstate New York, my daughter is in 2nd grade. She has always been allowed to carry her epi. Just because something isn't specifically allowed by law, don't be afraid to ask for it.

Posted on: Sun, 06/01/2003 - 4:26am
StaceyK's picture
Joined: 05/06/2003 - 09:00

I hope this passes!

Posted on: Fri, 05/16/2003 - 11:55pm
MommaBear's picture
Joined: 09/23/2002 - 09:00

Disclaimer: I am not offering advice in any manner or form. Merely humming loudly.

Posted on: Sat, 05/17/2003 - 9:38am
Sue's picture
Joined: 02/13/1999 - 09:00

Yes, Yes, Yes! It sounds too good to be true. I think people are starting to "get it"!
Thanks for posting the info - Gotta go - I need to start my letters!
Sue in Sunny Arizona

Posted on: Mon, 05/19/2003 - 11:14pm
Kathy L.'s picture
Joined: 07/30/1999 - 09:00

I live in NJ. I don't know what the law is, but I wonder what would happen if a child was found with an "illegal" inhaler or Epipen on their person. Wouldn't that make a great news story. "Child has epi-pen in her backback. Mother charged as dealer. Story at 11."
Whatever the law is, I'm sending an epi-pen with my daughter when she gets to middle school. That school is so huge, with so many crazy hallways, additions and secret passages that the nurse would never get to her in time. Tough petunias.

Posted on: Tue, 05/20/2003 - 11:51am
Janet Laflamme's picture
Joined: 02/08/1999 - 09:00

Originally we were told in 1998 when my son entered Kindergarten that he would be EXPELLED if he carried the epi-pen or benedryl. The school system has zero drug tolerance rule. It applies to even an aspirin.
The tone has changed dramatically over the last couple of years. Our common goal now is for my son to carry his meds by the 6th grade when he enters middle school and must move from class to class.
I believe they are finally getting the drift that you must have immediate access to inhalers, epi-pens, benedryl, etc. It would be great to hand them examples where laws have been passed to protect our rights.
(I guess my I and my mother would have been in big trouble since I carried one dose of aspirin and my Naldecon(decongestant) all the time from the 7th grade on.)

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