Robert Glatter, MD, Emergency Medicine, 10:59AM Aug 2, 2013
On July 30, the House of Representatives passed HR 2094, The School Access To Emergency Epinephrine Act, a measure that may allow schools to be better prepared for anaphylactic reactions profound, life-threatening, allergic reactions type reactions, often caused by foods, especially nuts, as well as bee stings.
The measure would give asthma grant preferences to states that come up with policies to make epinephrine -- a drug used to treat anaphylactic shock-available in schools.
The proposed legislation would also encourage schools to allow trained personnel to administer epinephrine (via EpiPen Auto-Injectors) to students who are felt to be having anaphylactic reactions, while additionally ordering states to examine their liability laws to make certain that trained personnel have reasonable legal safeguards when they help students who are felt to be having such life threatening reactions.
Anaphylactic shock can develop in minutes after consuming such foods as peanuts, shellfish, eggs, milk or eggs, as well as from bee stings. Epinephrine injected in the lower extremity through a device called an EpiPen Auto-injector is effective in reducing the potentially lethal swelling affecting the tongue and tissues in the throat and upper airway.
The School Access To Emergency Epinephrine Act, which passed the House earlier today, was sponsored by Rep. Phil Roe, MD, (R-TN), and Rep. Steny Hoyer, the House's Democaratic Whip.
Hoyer applauded the passage of the bill in his press release, stating , as the grandfather of a child with food allergies, I know firsthand how worrisome it can be knowing that exposure to even a minuscule amount of allergen could quickly develop into life-threatening anaphylaxis.
Rep. Roe in his press release explained that you can never be too careful when protecting the life of a child and this legislation will ensure we re taking every precaution possible to ensure children are safe should they have an allergic reaction at school.
In his statements, Roe further ephasized that nearly 6 million children suffer from food allergies or 1 out of every 13 children under age 18. Though some states do allow children with a known history of allergies to bring certain medications to school, roughly 25% of cases of anaphylaxis occur in schools among students with no previous history of a documented allergy or a previous allergic or anaphylactic reaction. Having emergency epinephrine readily available can save lives.
William T. Durkin, Jr., MD MBA FAAEM, President of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM), a co-sponsor of the bill explained the significance of such a measure.
As emergency physicians, we understand that prompt action is imperative in the situation of anaphylaxis. The bill allows for a potentially life saving treatment to be administered immediately onsite rather than wait for EMS personnel to arrive on scene. At times, the extra time lost can make a difference between life and death. The Academy is pleased to have been a sponsor of this bill that will truly make a difference in the health and well being of the public.
An analogy made by the lawmakers compared availability of epinephrine to the availability of emergency defibrillators in schools. Both interventions are time sensitive and lifesaving in nature.
The measure, co-sponsored by 15 Republicans and 19 Democrats, is endorsed by Food Allergy Research & Education, (FARE), the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI), as well as the American academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM).
The legislation is now headed to the Senate for consideration and a potential vote in the near future.