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State mandates EpiPens in schools

February 26, 2014 - Every public school in Michigan will be required starting this fall to supply two epinephrine auto-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, which was signed by Governor Rick Snyder in December 2013, 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 auto-injection "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 most well-known of these injectors are the EpiPen brand.

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

According to the website, common food allergies where EpiPens are administered include peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, eggs and milk; insect bites or stings from bees, ants and ticks, as well as reactions to medications such as penicillin.

Lake Orion Community Schools Superintendent Marion Ginopolis said she is "very familiar" with EpiPens because she carries one due to her severe allergies to seafood and iodine. However, she admitted to having "mixed feelings" as far as the legislation goes.

"I just feel very concerned that the legislation imposes something on people that are not medical professionals to do something for kids without parent permission or medical authorization. That's my big concern," she said. "On the other hand if it can save a child's life than I am all for it."

Ginopolis said if epinephrine was administered to someone who was not having anaphylactic shock that it could cause irreversible damage.

"The real issue is the legislature continues to come up with these things without involving educators about what could possiblly be (the) ramifications," she added. "If it saves one child's life, yes (it's a good thing). On the other hand, if it damages one child, then what?"

Oxford Schools Superintendent Dr. William Skilling said he doesn't have a "definitive opinion."

"Students who need an EpiPen already have them at school just like students who need medications," he said. "This legislation potentially puts more liability on schools and their employees."

However, Clarkston Schools Superintendent Dr Rod Rock thought "increasing student safety is always a good idea."

"I hope that the state will provide adequate funding for this and that we can obtain the level of training required to keep our students and staff safe in the event of the need to administer an EpiPen," Rock said. "This is a very serious matter."

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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