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Mandated EpiPen legislation coming to schools for next year

February 05, 2014 - By Meg Peters

Review Staff Writer

By no later than the 2014-15 school year, all public schools in Michigan are required to supply two epinephrine injectors for students who are believed to be in anaphylactic shock.

Parents whose students have severe allergies have already supplied EpiPen injectors to their schools, so this law is a means to provide the students with unknown allergies with an immediate remedy.

Bill No. 4353 provides policies which authorize a licensed registered professional school nurse or a school employee trained in proper administration of the injector to give an epinephrine autoinjector "to any other individual on school grounds who is believed to be having an anaphylactic reaction," and will not be liable for the student's injury or death after the fact.

The policy would also require parents to be notified if their daughter or son was injected with an EpiPen.

While school board members agreed it was logical to have extra EpiPens in schools for children with unknown allergies, several members commented on infringing the parent/school boundary, especially if the EpiPen was administered accidentally to a student thought to be in anaphylactic shock.

"I guess there would be times when you might not be sure, but for the most part you are going to have signs, things are going to be happening to where you think they are having a reaction," said Mellissa Drallos, a physician assistant at Orion Family Physicians.

"It could in times cause more harm than good, but that's when you have to be in tune to the signs and symptoms and use your best judgment in the moment if that person needs the injection."

Drallos said she could not give any numbers for how many kids it may save, but if it would save one, it is a good idea as long as administration is properly trained in technique and looking for the signs.

Shortness of breath, not being able to breathe, swelling of the throat and face region, possibly hives, and eventual fainting are all possible signs a person is in anaphylactic shock, Drallos said.

"Epinephrine is a vasoconstrictor. It can raise your blood pressure, cause faster, irregular heartbeats, sweating, nausea, vomiting and dizziness. It is kind of revving up your body," Drallos said. "In a different dose it is used as a cardiac medicine for resuscitating people in certain situations. So it doesn't come without its on risks."

Drallos encourages administration to call 911 after administering an EpiPen due to its side effects.

"If there is a kid we don't know has an allergy like that (to peanuts, or a bee sting), and it's the first time it's happening and we could save their life, then it might be a good thing to have in the school," Drallos said.

On average, EpiPens come two to a pack, and cost about $315 a pack.

State funding would provide around $900,000 for about 4,800 public schools in Michigan.

Each school would receive around $200 to purchase the EpiPens, and according to the legislation would have to obtain funding or resources from private sources. '

Superintendent Marion Ginopolis is still looking into the new legislation and whether other Oakland County superintendents are for or against it.

"If something happens to a child we call 911, and they're here very quickly. That's what we recommend," Ginopolis said.

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