Allergic Child Dies at School – Is Your Child’s School Safe?

 

EpiPen

EpiPen devices should be in every school in case of an allergic reaction emergency. Does your child's school have them?

 

Food allergies in children are so common these days but sometimes you don’t really think about how serious they can be until something tragic happens. Recently a 7-year old Virginia girl who was allergic to peanuts died of an allergic reaction after a schoolmate gave her a peanut while in the school playground and this is just the type of story that sends shivers down a parents spine.

This hits much closer to home with me as well. I’m a parent of two beautiful kids and my 6-year old daughter actually started her life allergic to dairy products up until the age of about 4 years old when she ‘outgrew’ it. We never stepped out of the house without an EpiPen which is an autoinjector medical device used to deliver a measured dose of epinephrine (pronounced eh – puh – neh – frin) to counteract the allergic reaction. Luckily we never had to use it but we always were extremely nervous when eating out that this might be the time to we had to use it.

To say we were nervous about her dairy allergy was probably very accurate. We were always vigilant to make sure she wasn’t eating anything with any type of dairy ingredient at all and that was extremely tough. Who knew that so many foods had dairy ingredients and it was not an easy task to make sure that everything she ate did not have any dairy in it, around it or ANYTHING to do with it. Not to mention we had to inform everyone around her that she was very allergic and to be careful which made it extra stressful. Luckily we were around her 24/7 and there was never a time where she went off to school where she could have been exposed without us knowing.

That is what saddens me about the young 7-year old girl in Virginia that died after a being exposed to peanuts in a school environment. I’m not sure about the exact details regarding whether the school was totally aware of her allergy but it’s obvious the school was unprepared to handle an allergic emergency such as this one. It’s a tragedy that could have been avoided and that is an argument that many are bringing up now to make sure kids are protected from just such an emergency.

In this particular case in Virginia the argument over who is right and who is wrong comes down to responsibility. The School Policy in this county states that the parents are the ones responsible for providing the school with daily or emergency medications for their children as long as it’s prescribed by their health care provider. What this means is that schools in this county do not regularly stock EpiPens like they would bandages or other everyday first aid items. In addition, even if there was an EpiPen at the school with another child’s name on it, the school wouldn’t be permitted to use it on another child in the event of an emergency.

CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT???

In my eyes that is absolutely ridiculous. Ridiculous in the sense that they do not have these on hand and that they cannot use an EpiPen that is ON HAND to save a life if it doesn’t belong to that particular child.

However, there is good news hopefully around the corner. A proposed bill would ‘encourage’ states to adopt laws requiring schools to have a stock of EpiPen devices on hand for both students and faculty should the need arise. To me this is almost a no-brainer but like everything else around here we need to make sure our government passes the bill to make it work.

“When it comes to a life-threatening allergic reaction, it’s so simple to save that life,” said Maria Acebal, chief executive officer of the Fairfax, Va.-based Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, which championed the bill. “I have no doubt that the school where this little girl went had an EpiPen in the office — it just didn’t have Ammaria’s name on it.”

The bill would include liability protection for school officials who give epinephrine in good faith, Acebal said.

“No one in this country has ever been sued for giving epinephrine, to my knowledge,” said Acebal. “All the lawsuits come about because school officials don’t give it when it’s needed.”

If you’re the parent of children with food allergies, allergy to bee stings or ANY type of allergy I would be on the phone tomorrow with the school to see what their policy is regarding emergency aid in case of an allergic reaction. One child dying of an allergy is one too many and parents need to do everything they can to make sure their kids are safe at home as well as in school. You cannot just assume that the procedures are in place for an allergic emergency which is why I encourage you to find out your school’s policy right away. Remember, it’s our responsibility as parents to make sure our kids are safe so do not delay.

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