(TRENTON) – Bipartisan legislation sponsored in part by Assembly Democrat Marlene Caride to amend current law to allow trained school officials to administer epinephrine to a student suffering from a life-threatening allergic reaction without parental consent or a prescription from a doctor in an emergency situation was advanced by an Assembly panel on Monday.
Epinephrine is used in emergencies to treat very serious allergic reactions to insect stings/bites, foods, drugs, or other substances. Epinephrine acts quickly to improve breathing, stimulate the heart, raise a dropping blood pressure, reverse hives, and reduce swelling of the face, lips, and throat.
“Children spend a significant amount of time in school. It is vital that schools be able to help a child who is suffering from a bad allergic reaction,” said Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This helps avoid a worse-case scenario where a child who could have been helped with a shot of epinephrine gets very sick or worse because there was no written consent from the parent or no epinephrine to begin with.”
Current law requires boards of education and nonpublic school administrators to develop policies concerning the emergency administration of epinephrine to a student provided that the student’s parent or guardian provides written authorization for administration of the epinephrine and written orders from a physician that the student requires epinephrine for anaphylaxis.
Caride’s bill (A-304) would amend the law concerning the emergency administration of epinephrine to require that school nurses and trained designees be permitted to administer epinephrine to any student, in addition to those with written parental authorization and written orders from a doctor, when the nurse or designee in good faith believes that the student is having an anaphylactic reaction.
“With food allergies among children on the rise, many schools are removing certain products from their menus to prevent endangering children who are allergic. But an allergy may not reveal itself until the child has an actual attack. Having epinephrine ready for administration in the case of an emergency is another way schools can protect these students,” said Caride.
Under the bill’s provisions, public and nonpublic schools would be required to maintain a supply of epinephrine auto-injectors – that is prescribed under a standing protocol from a licensed physician – in a secure, but unlocked location that is easily accessible to the school nurse and trained designees for administration. The bill also amends the law providing immunity from liability to school employees and agents for good faith acts or omissions concerning the emergency administration of epinephrine to specifically include a physician providing a prescription under a standing protocol for school epinephrine. Lastly, the bill specifies that in the event that a licensed athletic trainer volunteers epinephrine, it would not be in violation of the “Athletic Training Licensure Act.”
The measure was released by the Assembly Education Committee.