Maryland has just become the latest state to require public schools to keep a stock of epinephrine, reports theMaryland Coast Dispatch.Last week, Governor Martin O’Malley signed the new law, which requires schools to keep an emergency supply of epinephrine auto-injectors (such as Epi-Pens) on hand to treat life-threatening allergic reactions, buying crucial time to get students to the hospital.
In the past, schools in Maryland could only administer the potentially life-saving medication to students who had a prescription for epinephrine, typically after being diagnosed with a severe allergy. However, an estimated 25% of allergic reactions occurring at school happen to students who have not previously been diagnosed with an allergy. As such, they do not carry their own Epi-Pen to stop the reaction.
The new law was prompted by an incident last year that happened to a Maryland student named Lilliana Franklin. Lilliana, an eighth-grader, has a known allergy to nuts and peanuts, and accidentally ate peanut butter at school. Immediately feeling symptoms of an allergic reaction, she rushed to the school nurse’s office, where she kept two EpiPens and a stock of Benadryl, provided by her parents for just such a situation.
However, the substitute nurse who was working that day “Really didn’t take it seriously, she took her time and flipped through the folder…” explained Lilliana’s mother, Marianne. Lilliana’s friend ended up using the Epi-Pen, but it did not deliver enough of the medication because she wasn’t trained to use it correctly. Marianne took her own daughter to the hospital, where she received emergency treatment.
Following the incident, Lilliana’s parents Michael and Marianne discussed the situation with the school’s nurse and principal to find out how that type of incident could be prevented in the future. As news of the incident spread, other parents of children with allergies became concerned. Michael explained “That [bill] came about by other parents with children with known allergies finding out what happened to Lilly and becoming fearful of what could happen to their kid and thinking what if they are not as fortunate.”
By next school year, all public schools in the state will be required to keep EpiPens on hand which can be used on any student experiencing an allergic reaction. They will also be required to train staff members on what to do in case of an allergic reaction.