A Report Card For Undesignated Epinephrine In Schools

Currently, 49 states have guidelines or laws that either permit or require schools to stock undesignated epinephrine.

Undesignated, or “stock” epinephrine is not prescribed for specific individuals. It can be administered to any student (or staff member) demonstrating symptoms of anaphylaxis, a life-threatening food allergy reaction.

Illinois, for instance, allows public and non-public schools to stock epinephrine auto-injectors and train school personnel in anaphylaxis symptom recognition, and auto-injector use. Any administration of the stock epinephrine must be reported to the state of Illinois within 72 hours of an allergy incident.

One State’s Epinephrine Experience

The Illinois State Board of Education recently made public the reported use of undesignated epinephrine in their schools during the 2014-2015 school term. The compiled data validate the health and safety benefits of having stock epinephrine available for students:

  • A total of 65 administrations of the undesignated epinephrine were reported from 17 Illinois school districts representing 59 schools. Six schools reported at least two doses were given.
  • The most common ages of students receiving the epinephrine were 15, and 16.
  • Among those given epinephrine 41.5 percent (27 individuals) had been diagnosed with severe allergy; 58.5 percent (38 individuals) had not been diagnosed with a food allergy.
  • In epinephrine uses involving a diagnosed allergy, 28 percent were owed to peanut, or a peanut-related food exposure.
  • Eight individuals receiving the stock epinephrine had multiple food allergy triggers.

These numbers make it clear that having undesignated epinephrine in Illinois schools benefits their food-allergic students, and is especially critical for those with unknown allergies, and the higher-risk teen population. Not having the epinephrine available might have had catastrophic results for some of the 65 Illinois students who needed it.

Is Your School Stocked?

Because seconds count in anaphylactic emergencies, because roughly two students in each of today’s classrooms have a food allergy, and because a child’s first allergic reaction can be severe having undesignated epinephrine in our school’s makes sense—but not all schools are on board.

If your child’s school does not stock undesignated epinephrine, consider becoming a School Access To Emergency Epinephrine advocate. The Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) website provides plenty of information and advocacy tools for parents wanting to make their school more allergy safe (links below).

Sources: Food Allergy; School Access To Epinephrine Map ; Advocating For Undesignated Epinephrine In Your School
Photo credit: Phil Roeder

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