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By: Lilliana DeSantiago Cardenas | AFAA School Epinephrine Advocate & Editorial Contributor
With the passage of SB 1421 allowing school districts to provide stock general use epinephrine for emergencies it is important that we understand what this means.
Exciting times are here; our children are off to a new school year.  Unfortunately these are also times of anxiety and fear for many families. With the passage of SB1421 allowing school districts to provide stock general use epinephrine for emergencies it is important that we understand what this means.  Also what we can do while schools in AZ become more competent on Food Allergies, Anaphylaxis and how to help our children either with their own epinephrine or with stock.

  1. Most schools will not have stock epinephrine available this year.  By law they are only required to stock if funds have been allocated via the annual budget.  Schools may opt to purchase these through their own funds.  Check with your schools.
  2. Stock epinephrine should never take the place of your child’s prescribed epinephrine.  Bring your child’s prescribed medication to school, make sure it is not expired, label it clearly and provide clear and detailed information to all classroom teachers, aides, and any other adults that will work with your child during the school day on how and when to use it. 
  3. Be prepared and communicate, 504 Plans are essential if your child has food allergies that lead to anaphylaxis. They not only provide information and guidance on how and when to help your child, but it is a legal and binding document that is developed in agreement with school administration, teachers, and parents.   504 Plans also provide you the leverage you need to ensure that necessary accommodations are made in regards to food, medication access, and class room environment.  Also if there are violations to the 504 Plan it is much easier to take legal action and hold people accountable.  Some schools may challenge your child’s ability to carry their epinephrine if there is not a 504 Plan and information outlining your child’s condition and medication requirements.  Make sure you check in with your school administrator and nurse about this.
  4. Share training resources on how to administer epinephrine to all adults who work with your child: The thought of injecting epinephrine is scary for most people.  Ease concerns through education and practice with demos.
  5. Be a team! Work with the school as much as possible and understand that they are afraid too. Schools are set up to be educational institutions not healthcare providers so this is totally out of their comfort zone.  They don’t want to put your child in danger.  The more you work with them in a patient and respectful manner, the more responsive they will be.  They need to be educated on the issue, treatment, risks, and emergency management.  The more they understand that the danger is in the lack of responding vs giving someone epinephrine the more they will become comfortable and willing to help.
My experience working with schools for over 8 years on asthma, food allergies, and diabetes is that they want to help, but they don’t really know how.  They are scared and don’t want to get into legal troubles. They don’t want to hurt your child and they sure don’t want a tragedy on their hands.  Education and awareness is key and the way to achieve this is through collaborative partnership between parents, students and school.   



Susan M
09/11/2014 1:54pm

Sadly my sons 504 plan didn't do much in terms of guaranteeing his safety, or the school taking responsibility legally or otherwise, when a TEACHER gave him a cookie with walnuts in it, after he point blank asked her if there were nuts in it. It was a cluster f*** from that point on. Before he barely swallowed the cookie (on his way to his next class) he started to go into anaphylactic shock, he told his teacher he thought he was having an allergic reaction (the teacher as well as whole school district, knows about his nut allergy). The teacher told him to go to the office. My son walked clear across campus UNACCOMPANIED, to the office, they delayed giving him his epi-pen for 30 minutes, only called 911 because I told them to... When I asked the principal how to bill them for what our insurance didn't cover. He said "we're not responsible, it would be like he tripped in PE and hurt himself". No apology from him or anything! However, we did get a phone call from his teacher who apologized profusely and said "I'm so so sorry, I read the ingredients on one box, and just didn't think oatmeal cookies would have nuts in them, so I didn't read that box and told him to have one" to make a long story, not so long.... We sought legal advice, there was no precedence for "almost killing a kid with nuts". All lawsuits were in regards to actual loss of life. We were encouraged to take a settlement, rather than go to trial in which my son would of been put on the stand and made to feel like it was his fault. Anyway, 504 didn't help. My advice. Teach your child to ONLY eat what you supply them with, no matter what. Once they can read, teach them not to trust what anyone else says, and to read labels for themselves. Eating at a restaurant is a crap shoot, always have an epi-pen and benedryl.

Susan M
09/11/2014 1:57pm

We don't live in AZ, but I hear of issues with schools and allergies from people all over.

10/04/2014 12:55pm

well its a big reason to worry then for our children. There should be some solution for the same.


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