(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel on Monday approved legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Marlene Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic) that would amend current law to allow trained school officials to administer epinephrine to a student suffering from a life-threatening allergic reaction without former parental consent or a prescription from a doctor in an emergency situation.
“Children spend a significant amount of time in school. It is vital that schools be equipped and able to help a child who is suffering from a severe allergic reaction,” said Caride. “This helps avoid a worse-case scenario where a child that 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.”
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.
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.
The bill (A-2734) 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.
The bill also requires that public and nonpublic schools 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.”
“Food allergies in children are on the rise. Making matters worse, some parents may be unaware that their child has a food allergy until the child has an attack,” said Caride. “We should not wait for a tragedy before we take the necessary steps to ensure that a child, who is experiencing an allergic reaction for the first time while in school, will get the appropriate medical treatment.”
The bill was released by the Assembly Education Committee.