Is Your State On Board with the New Epi Pen Laws?

EpiPen4Schools ProgramIn 2013, Oklahoma, Florida and Tennessee joined 13 other states in passing laws that will enable schools to keep a supply of epinephrine auto-injectors on hand that hasn’t been prescribed to a specific student in their schools who has a severe allergic reaction. The other states include Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia. To date, this means 30 states now allow schools to keep undesignated epinephrine, but only four states require it. In an ideal world, every child who has known allergies would have access to prescribed epinephrine during school hours. But any parent who’s ever made a special trip to school to drop off some item forgotten at home — a preschooler’s favorite nap time blanket, a fourth grader’s lunch or a sophomore’s soccer uniform — knows that few of us live in an ideal world – therefore it becomes even more important to allow schools to keep auto-injectors on hand in case of an emergency.

So how does this affect your child while they are at school? While having a child with a known allergy is nerve racking enough while planning for a new school year, disturbingly, a significant portion of severe allergic reactions at school occur among students with no prior allergy diagnosis. During the 2012-13 school year, of the 38 people in Chicago public schools who were injected with undesignated EpiPens provided through the EpiPen4Schools program, 21 did not previously know they had an allergy. (The youngest student was 3, the oldest was 19, and two recipients were school staff members.

As far as who can administer the epi pen, while some students are able to administer their own epi pens, the laws vary from state to state with some school districts choosing to have certain people trained to administer it and some choosing to have everyone on staff and who will be in contact with the children trained. For example: “In the Edmond schools, the policy is students who need an EpiPen are on a medical plan specifying the need for it,” said Susan Parks-Schlepp, public information officer. “Parents supply the EpiPen and staff is trained appropriately.”

Deer Creek Public Schools District’s current policy allows students to carry their own EpiPen with them on their person after their physician signs an order to do so, said Carol Ashby, RN, district nurse.

“Most students keep a back-up EpiPen in the clinic that can be used if necessary,” Ashby said. “EpiPen would be administered by the student if possible. If not, a trained employee of Deer Creek would administer the EpiPen and then call 911.”

Learning how to use an EpiPenAshby went on to say the district plan is to look at the current policy and update the policy in alignment with the new House bill.

Until every school has the medication on site, a parent can take steps before the bell rings to ensure that everyone is prepared to prevent problems and handle emergencies but parents need to become familiar with their state’s policies regarding food allergy education, prevention and emergency care at school and how these new laws help all children.

About the Author

Greg Atwood is a Firefighter /Paramedic in Coral Gables Florida and works for the Coral Gables Fire Rescue. He is an American Heart Association certified instructor in BLS ( Basic Life Support ), ACLS ( Advanced Cardiopulmonary Life Support ), and PALS ( Pediatric Advanced Life Support ). Greg currently lives in Miami Florida with his beautiful wife Alexa and their 2 sons, Connor and Jake. Greg is a former member of the PedSafe Expert team


13 Responses to “Is Your State On Board with the New Epi Pen Laws?”

  1. I have three epi pens for myself and am SO lucky we haven’t found any allergies that would require my children to need one. They’ve saved my life a time or two though!

  2. Greg Atwood says:

    Julie. EPI pens are life savers no doubt! I have 2 for my younger son who is allergic to kiwi and have used them multiple times on duty to patients that are having a reaction and either don’t have one or just can’t do it to themselves.

  3. Danny says:

    The minute a child has been diagnosed with anaphylaxis allergies they should start self carrying their epipens even if their school has them in every classroom. Nothing is safer that having the epioens on you. carrying epipens is easy if they wear an epioen carrier. They can wear a concealed epioen leg holster or epipen waist belt and be prepared to help stop allergic reactions before is too late.

  4. Michelle Kraft says:

    Hi there,
    I live in the state of Oregon. How does the school administration get a prescription for the undesignated epi pen? How do they get trained?


    • Greg Atwood says:

      Good Morning Michelle.

      I am sorry it has taken me so long to get you an answer to your question. But I have received an answer that may help you. I wanted to get it straight from Oregon for you and reached out to the Oregon board of education and this is the response I received .

      Mr. Atwood, thank you for your question. Below my signature block, I have copied the two Laws which were passed in the 2013 Session of the Oregon Legislature, and which pertain to epinephrine. In Senate Bill 611, Enrolled, please note Section 1 (b)—

      Your question, “how does a school go about getting an EPI pen at the school for the school’s use’: this question is not addressed in Oregon law, which means that it is up to the individual local school district to determine; Oregon school districts address this situation in a variety of ways, and you would need to check with local school districts in order to obtain an answer to this question.

      Please let me know how I might be of further assistance—thank you/Leslie Currin

      Leslie Currin RN
      School Health Specialist
      Oregon Department of Education

      Just to add to this answer, There are companies that have Epi pen for schools programs such as the one at the top of this comment section. and there may be local medical offices that may be willing to donate what you need.

      I hope this information helps you and if you have any other questions, please feel free to contact me anytime.

      Thank You


  5. Sherri says:

    While I appreciate the availability of epi pens in the immediate proximity, I have a couple of thoughts that I would appreciate your comments on: 1. In the elementary school setting, many students are too young to appreciate the responsibility of carrying their own epi pens, and I wonder about the safety of their class/school mates if the EpiPen was to be misplaced or lost. 2. If every student with an allergy and EpiPen was to be furnished with a backpack or other carrier for the pens, would this somehow label them as ‘different’ and thereby not only targeting them for bullying, but also potentially infringing on their health information confidentially?

  6. Amanda Smith says:

    How do you find out if an Epipen on an ambulance is a requirement by law? They don’t have one on board and if you dial 911 and that is what you need……someone dies because they don’t have an epipen on an ambulance? I am in Louisiana.

    • Greg Atwood Greg says:

      Good question Amanda.
      I would contact the state of Louisiana board of EMS or the state dept of health and see what they say but I know that many departments such as mine have stopped carrying epi pens for adults and the reason is that while the epi pen is a fast tool for delivering epi in an emergency, epi pens are somewhat expensive so we now carry a kit which consists of the same epi in a vial and a needle and syringe to withdraw it and deliver it to the patient which can all be done in less than a minute with proper training. So as long as the ambulance has the epi and the way to deliver it I would think they meet any requirements placed by the state. But if they have NO epi on the ambulance that certainly cannot be right and must be looked into. Hope this helps. Please let us know if you hear anything from the state of Louisiana. Thank you.

  7. Shannon says:

    If my son by law in Washington state is that he can’t attend school without them but I can’t afford them since the hike, can I ask them to keep some there, I don’t know if they have to be a participant in that epi pens for school program or if they are eligible in Peirce county.

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