How to Use an EpiPen

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How to Use an EpiPen
Use an EpiPen

Anaphylaxis is a severe, life-threatening body reaction to an allergen. Immediate action at the first sign of anaphylactic shock is critical as anaphylaxis can be fatal. The EpiPen auto-injector contains one dose of epinephrine which reverses the effects of anaphylaxis. Learn to use the EpiPen to stop anaphylactic reactions.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Visit with your primary care physician or allergist to discuss when and how to use the EpiPen. Ask if he has a practice injector and use it in his presence to make sure you administer the EpiPen correctly.

  2. 2

    Remove the yellow or green cap from the EpiPen carrying case and remove the injector. Firmly hold the pen with the black tip facing down.

  3. 3

    Take the safety release off of the auto-injector with your opposite hand. This is located on the end opposite the black tip.

  4. 4

    Place the pen on your outer thigh and firmly jab the pen into the thigh at a perpendicular angle. Hold it there for 10 to 15 seconds.

  5. 5

    Remove the pen from the thigh and immediately call 911. Tell the operator you have administered epinephrine and the ambulance should bring more epinephrine to administer (not all EMT units carry enough epinephrine).

  6. 6

    Place the used auto-injector into the safety case and take it with you to the hospital for proper disposal.

Tips and warnings

  • The EpiPen is made to go through clothing, even denim. Don't waste valuable time trying to remove clothing to administer the shot.
  • Check the expiration date periodically to ensure your EpiPen is viable.
  • Fluid in the EpiPen should be clear. If it isn't, replace the pen immediately.
  • Take expired or used auto-injectors to a hospital or your doctor for proper disposal.
  • There is no harm done if an injection is given when it is not needed. Always err on the side of caution if you're not sure if you should give the shot. It's better to give it than to not give it.
  • Always seek medical attention immediately after using the EpiPen. Anaphylaxis can return minutes later.
  • Do not expose the EpiPen to extreme temperatures. Keep it at room temperature and don't expose it to light.
  • EpiPen is made for people over 60 pounds. For people under 60 pounds, there is the EpiPen Junior. Always use the appropriate auto-injector.

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