School nurses in Ohio are choosing not to carry emergency epinephrine due to ambiguities in the state’s new allergy laws for schools. The Ohio law allows, but does not require, schools to carry emergency epinephrine. Liability concerns over accidental mis-use of epinephrine on those not prescribed it are the leading reason for refusal.
“Due to many unresolved issues regarding un-prescribed epinephrine for general use,” said one school district in a statement, “.[the district] does not, at this time, have a policy to stick the medication.”
Side-effects of epinephrine can include fast heartbeat, sweating, nausea, vomiting, trouble breathing, headache, seizures, and more.
When doctors prescribe epinephrine, the risks and benefits have been weighed and the individual’s health history has been included in that assessment. In schools where a nurse or a trained professional on campus sees a student having a possible allergic reaction, they do not have that information and do not know if the trouble is truly anaphylaxis.
Instead, nurses are continuing to rely on students to have been prescribed epinephrine and either have it with them or have it registered with and stored at the school. Because Ohio lawmakers did not include a requirement and because they did not include liability waivers in the law, many school districts in the state will continue to opt not to adopt policies for general epinephrine stock and use.