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Saving lives with timely doses of Epinephrine

Steve Wagner

The life of Cameron Espinosa, all of 13 years, was tragically cut short recently. The boy was excitedly huddled with the rest of his teammates during a football match at Paul R Haas Middle School at Corpus Christi when he began to yell out about ants being around. He collapsed on the ground soon after and was taken to Driscoll Children’s Hospital, where he later died. Cameron had a severe allergy to the fire ants that were on the ground. The boy could have been saved if an emergency dose of epinephrine, a common allergy combatant, had been injected into him, on time, at the school grounds.

The ongoing debate

This incident brings to the forefront a debate that has been ongoing for some time now – the need to train more school personnel in the administration of epinephrine in emergency cases and more importantly, the necessity for schools to stock this product. Epinephrine is easily available in the form of a brand called EpiPen, which comes in an injectable form and can be administered directly in case of an allergy attack.

The numbers speak volumes

Research shows that more than 6 million children in the United States suffer from some type of food allergies. This makes up eight percent of the child population. Close to two million people are allergic to stinging insects. A severe allergic reaction can result in anaphylactic shock, which is fatal but preventable with prompt administration of epinephrine.

With such high statistics for allergies, 30 states have trained school staff in administering epinephrine. But only four states – Virginia, Maryland, Nebraska and Nevada have made it compulsory to stock the medicine.

Indiana Law

According to IC 20-8.1-5.1-7.5 of the Indiana Law code, a student, if diagnosed with a life-threatening allergic reaction, can with the express permission of his parents and the knowledge of the school staff, carry the required medication and administer it himself, should the need arises. This, however, does not put the onus on the school to handle an emergency requirement.

The argument for stocking of epinephrine

It is possible that an allergy will manifest itself for the first time when a child is at school. Instead of delaying treatment by waiting for the arrival of 911 emergency services, the EpiPen can be administered immediately to save the life of the child. Should diagnosis be wrong and the EpiPen wrongly administered, there will is no worry about any side-effects except bruising perhaps on the point of entry.

The flip side of the argument

Requiring schools to carry epinephrine also requires each school to train personnel in administering epinephrine. More importantly, the personnel must be able to recognize the symptoms associated with a severe allergy. However, with the staff of schools in 30 states already trained to do this, it is perhaps just a question of training the schools in the remaining states.

The pros and cons of requiring schools to carry epinephrine are still being debated in political circles, and changes to current law are possible in the near future. Should you be faced with the wrongful death of a loved one due to the lack of an epinephrine dose when needed, contact an Indianapolis personal injury lawyer. The child injury attorneys at Wagner Reese offer free consultations to discuss your case options.

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