Proposed Federal Law Encourages Schools To Stock Epipens For Allergy Treatment

Proposed federal legislation would encourage schools to stock epinephrine for treating students who are suffering an allergic reactions. The legislation mirrors the epinephrine law in Illinois, which encourages schools to have epinephrine on hand, and allows school nurses to administer the potentially lifesaving treatment to any student, regardless of whether they have a previously known allergy.

The proposed legislation was announced by U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill). According to the Chicago Tribune, the law would encourage more states to improve in-school access to epinephrine. Under the proposed law, states that require schools to maintain a supply of EpiPen devices would be rewarded. School nurses and other personnel would be trained in administering the injection. Under a 'good Samaritan' law, school employees who provide the treatment to students they believe are suffering an allergic reaction would be protected. Of the 'Good Samaritan' clause, Kirk said "I think it's common-sense legislation. It takes the one legal impediment of a liability concern and takes it off the table."

The federal law mirrors similar legislation in Illinois that was passed after Katelyn Carlson, 13, died of anaphylaxis, a serious allergic reaction, after eating food at school. She did not receive a potentially lifesaving injection of epinephrine because state law only allowed schools to dispense epinephrine if it had been prescribed by the student's physician, provided to the school by a parent, and listed on the student's medical plan.

According to pediatric allergist Sarah Boudreau-Romano, many families don't find out about food allergies until the child's first bite of a potentially harmful food. As a result, students may not have been prescribed epinephrine or diagnosed with a food allergy prior to suffering an allergic reaction in school. With rising rates of childhood food allergies, many parents say that having epinephrine injectors on site, and having staff willing to use them regardless of whether the child has a known food allergy, makes sense.

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