Maryland Gov. Martin O' Malley signs a bill into law that requires schools to establish a policy to authorize employees to administer auto–injectable epinephrine in allergy emergencies. Only Nebraska and Virginia have similar laws.
On Tuesday, Maryland became the third state to require schools to stock epinephrine for emergency use in children with severe allergic reactions.
Maryland Gov. Martin O' Malley signed the bill into law, requiring each county board of education to establish a policy to authorize certain school personnel to administer auto–injectable epinephrine in allergy emergencies. Only Nebraska and Virginia have similar regulations.
An epinephrine injection can mean the difference between life and death for people with severe allergic reactions. A 2003 New York Presbyterian Hospital study estimates that approximately 1,500 people die each year from anaphylaxis and 43 million Americans are at risk of experiencing an episode of anaphylaxis. Epinephrine slows down the effects of an allergic reaction, buying time for responders to arrive or to get a patient to a hospital.
In Virginia, the law is known as Amarria’s Law, named after 7-year-old Amarria Johnson who died at her school in January after an anaphylactic reaction from eating a peanut. Supporters of the law say it could have saved her life.
“This law will help address preventable deaths caused by food allergies because it ensures that all students [in Maryland] will have access to epinephrine in case of an emergency,” said the Maryland-Greater DC chapter of the Asthma Allergy Foundation of America in written statement.
Maryland’s new law authorizes school personnel to administer epinephrine to a student who is “perceived to be in anaphylaxis” regardless of whether the student has a prescription. School boards will be required to develop emergency training to recognize the symptoms of anaphylaxis and training on administering epinephrine. Schools will be required to report to the State Department of Education each time epinephrine is used.
The law goes into effect July first.
Similar legislation was introduced in the House by Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), a member of the House Education and Workforce Committee. Roe's bill would give grant preference to states that had epinephrine programs in their schools. It would also require states to have a Good Samaritan law protecting school employees from liability related to the administration of epinephrine to students believed, in good faith, to be having an anaphylactic reaction. The School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act (S. 1884) was introduced in the Senate in November.
“On average, there are two children with food allergies in every classroom… Additionally, it is estimated that 25 percent of anaphylaxis cases in schools involve individuals with a previously unknown allergy. Schools must be prepared to save the lives of children who have never had such reactions and do not possess their own epinephrine prescriptions,” Roe said in a statement published after meeting Amarria’s mother.
photo from MDGovpics