October 27, 2013
State Representative Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) recently introduced legislation with Representative Mike Duffey (R-Worthington) that strives to better prepare schools to treat severe allergic reactions among students.
House Bill 296 permissively allows a school or school district to stock non-patient specific (available to anyone experiencing a severe allergic reaction) doses of epinephrine on the school premises. The legislation will allow, but not require, a school district to adopt a protocol to maintain a stock of epinephrine and allow properly trained personnel to administer the emergency epinephrine to a student, staff member or visitors.
“Ohio law currently allows a school nurse and a student to possess and use epinephrine in case of an emergency, but only for a student with a known food allergy,” said Rep. Johnson. “If a child without a standing order for the life-saving drug has an allergic reaction, a school nurse would not legally be able to do anything but call 911, even though she may have a cabinet full of Epi-Pens. That is a problem this bill fixes.”
“My daughter Annie’s life was saved by an Epi-Pen following her first severe allergic reaction to peanut butter,” said Rep. Duffey. “We were completely surprised by it. I want to make sure other parents whose children experience an unexpected allergy are able to get the help they need.”
House Bill 296 outlines the training to be provided, the interaction with medical and school nurse professionals, as well as the liability protection for the trained employees that administer the dose in a proper manner. Additionally, there is currently a program available through a manufacturer to provide up to four auto-injectors at no cost to each school that applies for the doses through June 2014. If the bill is enacted in a timely manner, schools may be able to obtain these free doses for the current school year.
Schools currently permit individual students to bring an epinephrine auto-injector to school if prescribed by a physician. However, those doses are patient-specific and are not available to every student, staff member or visitor. Medical experts indicate epinephrine is essentially adrenaline, and therefore it is safe to administer even if a healthy person were to receive the drug.
Recent tragedies in other states have brought to light the need for schools to be able to respond to unexpected allergic reactions. Anaphylactic shock caused by previously unknown allergies can occur very quickly and recently claimed the lives of students in Virginia and Maryland. Both states have since passed laws similar to House Bill 296 in an effort to save lives.
House Bill 296 has been assigned to the House Education Committee where it will be discussed.