COLUMBUS — With the start of the 2015-2016 school year, Ohio State Rep. Dr. Terry Johnson (R- McDermott) today urged families of school-age children to check with their local school districts on the availability of emergency epinephrine.
“Last year we passed a law to allow schools to stock epinephrine for anyone who needs it,” said Rep. Johnson, who is a practicing osteopathic physician. “This law is critical because reports show that among children with peanut allergies who have experienced anaphylaxis at school, 25 percent had not previously been diagnosed with a food allergy,”
Epinephrine is medication used to halt anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction to certain foods or insect stings. Children with diagnosed allergies may bring epinephrine prescribed to them to school for their own use. For undiagnosed children, only school-stocked emergency epinephrine can be used in case of an extreme allergic reaction.
Rep. Dr. Johnson also recommends that parents of children with allergies provide a plan of action to their school, to provide guidance on what to do to avoid allergic triggers and how to treat reactions. While many children with food allergies know what foods to eat or avoid, it is helpful for school staff and classmates to be aware of an allergy situation and what they can do to help keep a child with allergies safe and healthy.
“It is important to remember that the epinephrine law is permissive, meaning schools may or may not adopt policies to stock emergency epinephrine,” said Rep. Dr. Johnson. “It is our hope that all Ohio schools can implement this important health and safety measure. Already Akron schools have experienced two lives saved because epinephrine was available.”
Schools are encouraged to work with local physicians, allergists, hospitals and registered school nurses to stock emergency epinephrine auto-injectors as well as to implement training and storage procedures.
State lawmakers will continue working on epinephrine availability through House Bill 200, sponsored by Rep. Christina Hagan (R-Alliance). This new bill, which has passed the Ohio House and next will be heard in the Ohio Senate, expands emergency epinephrine laws to allow entities such as restaurants, child care centers and other public settings that serve food, to stock epinephrine auto-injectors, if they choose.
Other states have enacted, or are working on similar “entity” epinephrine legislation. There are sixteen states that have passed entity epinephrine laws. Several other states, including Ohio have pending “entity” epinephrine legislation.