An epinephrine auto injector, or EpiPen, is a treatment used for a patient suffering from anaphylactic shock, a severe life-threatening allergic reaction. When administered quickly, an EpiPen gives the patient enough time to receive medical care. Following the creation of Sabrina's Law, laws were enacted across North America regarding the use of an EpiPen in schools to treat anaphylactic shock.
The best-known law concerning the use of an EpiPen is Sabrina's Law, named after a young girl who died from anaphylaxis after eating french fries that had come in contact with food containing dairy. This Canadian law, enacted in 2006, protects students with life-threatening allergies through policies that ensure in-school safety. School officials must be aware of a student's allergy, and training is required of all teachers and other school personnel in the use of an EpiPen and other emergency procedures.
Schools in the United States
The school environment can be a dangerous place for someone who suffers from severe allergies. Like Sabrina, a child with a severe food allergy does not necessarily have to consume the allergen to experience a reaction. If a child's food has come in contact with the allergen, or another child is eating that food and then touches the skin of the child with the allergy, an allergic reaction may be triggered. Therefore, it is particularly important for a child to have access to her EpiPen at school. All but five of the 50 states have laws allowing students to carry and self-administer an EpiPen at school. Only New York, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan do not have such laws in place.
Details concerning how the EpiPen should be carried in school and who can administer it varies from state to state. In some states, all school personnel, including bus drivers, are trained in how to use an EpiPen.
Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act
Currently, no federal laws exist regarding the use of the EpiPen. According to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act is a potential law which would establish guidelines to assist schools in the management and treatment of life-threatening allergies. While this law has not yet been enacted, it is currently in congress as S.456 and HR.1378. Such a law would help schools prevent accidental exposure to allergens and provide the proper training to administer an EpiPen.
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