Epinephrine can save children's lives

FirstAid site drawing

FirstAid site drawing by Lawrence Morgan

Injection of epinephrine can save a child's life

Many children have a specific allergy - anaphylaxis - which occurs when, for example, they are stung by a bee or they eat a peanut. In such a case, an injection of epinephrine can save their life.

It seems to me that Kansas should have a law that allows schools to keep epinephrine injectors available in case of an emergency, as does Virginia, Illinois, Georgia, Massachusetts, Maryland and, potentially, Ohio.

This article in today's New York Times explains much more about this particular allergy, anaphylaxis.:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/08/business/mylan-invests-in-epipen-as-child-allergies-increase.html

I have known a child who had such an allergy. And I, like most people I know, don't know why children's allergies are increasing today, although there are many potential causes.

As Maria L. Acebal, the chief executive of the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network explains in the article, "When a child is having an anaphylactic reaction, the only thing that can save her life is epinephrine. 911 doesn't get there fast enough."

Is this also true for adults?

I would hope that several Lawrence doctors could clarify this information for me (and surely many others) who are concerned. What should Kansas do about this?

It might also be wise for every parent (and for that matter, every person) to take an e-mail first aid course, such as the following:

http://firstaid.about.com/c/ec/9.htm

There might be other courses which are better. I realize, now, that I have never taken a first aid course since the Army, which is years ago. I would hope to hear from other people suggesting e-mail first aid courses which they have taken.

Perhaps a doctor or nurse could evaluate such email courses, and make some good suggestions.

Tagged: school children, allergy to peanuts, anaphylaxis, Pfizer, epipens, Mylan, allergy to bee sting

Comments

Lawrence Morgan 1 year, 7 months ago

Thank you for this excellent comment and background!

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Ryan Neuhofel 1 year, 7 months ago

Certainly! The adoption and availability of “Epi Pens” has dramatically reduced the number of deaths from anaphylaxis in the past 3 decades. The technical aspect of giving an EpiPen injection is very straightforward and needs 1-2 minutes of training. Assessing somebody with suspected “anaphylaxis” and giving the medication to only people whom will benefit is the difficult part.

I believe any school will allow a child with a known anaphylaxis history to store an Epi Pen at school (with nurse typically) with the proper documentation and approval. I always encourage my patients to have Epi close by at all times (home, school and travel). Can a teacher or school nurse provide an appropriate enough assessment to unilaterally give an EpiPen? I would think they are fully capable if given adequate first-aid/training. Especially if the child recognizes the symptoms and directs the staff to help out.

The real dilemma occurs when a child has no prior history (or documented history) of anaphylaxis and something occurs at school.

  • Dr. Neu
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