House Bill Could Loosen School Medicine Regulations

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A bill in the Ohio House of Representatives would allow school districts to stock epinephrine that could be used on anyone on the grounds who shows signs of a severe allergic reaction.

Rep. Terry Johnson and Rep. Mike Duffey introduced the bill with the support of the Ohio Association of School Nurses.

The bill would allow, but not require, schools to have epinephrine stocked. Logan-Hocking School District Assistant Superintendent Christy Bosch said the district would have to revise its current policy to allow it.

Bosch said currently the schools must have a note from doctors and parents or guardians to administer medication at school. Under Ohio law, school nurses can only give epinephrine to students with a known food allergy.

“If a child without a standing order for the life-saving drug has an allergic reaction, a school nurse would not legally be able to do anything but call 911 even though she or he may have a cabinet full of epinephrine. That is the problem this bill fixes,” Johnson said in a news release.

Kate King, president of the Ohio Association of School Nurses, said in the release that 30 states already have similar regulations.

“With the increase of food allergies among children, it is important to keep in mind that 25 percent of first time reactions happen at school,” King said.

Bosch said she can’t recall a student having a severe food reaction at any of the schools.

The bill would allow epinephrine auto-injectors, or Epipens, to be used on anyone who needs it. The bill outlines the training that will be needed and provide up to four Epipens to each school that applies for no cost through December 2014.