FeaturesDec/Jan 2014 Issue

All About Epinephrine

Why your child’s school should stock emergency epinephrine

Photo © iStock Photo/Thinkstock

Photo © iStock Photo/Thinkstock

When the eighth grade boy arrived in the school nurse’s office, his eyes were watering and he couldn’t stop sneezing, recalls Kathy Donohue, RN. The boy attributed his symptoms to seasonal allergies, which had been acting up. With his dad en route to pick him up, Donohue sent the student to retrieve his backpack from his locker. By the time he returned a few minutes later, his lips had ballooned to three times their size, he was covered in hives and he was grabbing at his throat. Donohue immediately checked the school’s procedure for administering medicine to students with undiagnosed allergies. Then she shot epinephrine into his right thigh while a school administrator called 911.

“He was changing in front of my eyes. In just three minutes, he was a different-looking kid,” says Donohue, the full-time nurse at Clarendon Hills Middle School in Clarendon Hills, Illinois. “Had I not given him the EpiPen, what would he have looked like three minutes after that?”

The student quickly improved after receiving the dose of epinephrine.

“I was grateful I had the EpiPen to help him,” Donohue says. “If I hadn’t had that, I don’t know that 911 would have gotten here quickly enough.”

A visit to an allergist following the anaphylactic reaction confirmed that the student had a tree nut allergy. On the day of the reaction, the boy had forgotten to bring a snack, so he had eaten a friend’s granola bar about an hour before he showed up in Donohue’s office.

If this had happened just a year earlier, Donohue wouldn’t have had emergency epinephrine in her office or the legal right to administer it without a prescription.

Next: Advocacy for Access

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