October 4, 2017

Schools can now keep spare allergy pens

New law for schools and allergies

A new law gives schools the ability to buy and keep spare adrenaline auto-injectors, often called Epipens, without a prescription.  These lifesaving gadgets can be used to treat pupils who have life-threatening allergic reactions to things such as peanuts, insect stings, soya and milk.

Allergy PenPreviously these were only available by prescription from a GP, meaning that schools had to rely on a pupil or parents bringing an auto-injector to school and letting the school staff know about it.  If a parent or pupil forgot to do this or lost their auto-injector then they could be faced with a deadly situation.

Emergency allergy pens (aka Epipens) now kept at schools

Luckily the rather dull sounding Human Medicines (Amendment) Regulations 2017 changes all of this.  Schools can now buy their own auto-injectors for pupils who are at risk of these extreme allergic reactions without the need to get a prescription.  Since these allergic reactions, also known as anaphylaxis, can happen very quickly a pupil may go from being health and active to unconscious and non-breathing.  There is new government guidance on this from the Department of Health.

Schools should never be without this important first aid gadget

This new law means that school staff won’t be in the position of dealing with a pupil who is dangerously ill without the proper equipment to help them.  A spare auto-injector can be used to give a dose of lifesaving adrenaline in an easy to use, quick acting, manner which counteracts the allergic reaction.  Since an allergic reaction could cause a person to collapse, make their airways swell up and stop them breathing all within a matter of seconds, getting this dose to them can make the vital difference between life and death.  Since current figures show that 17% of fatal allergic reactions in UK children occur at school, having the auto-injectors on site at schools which need them could potentially have a massive improvement on survival rates.

With over half of school-age children currently diagnosed with some sort of allergy, the awareness of schools, colleges, nurseries and activity centres to the need to have a plan in place has never been greater.

Fortunately there are several brands of auto injector on the market, the most well known being Epipen, and they are all easy to use.  In fact the training to use auto-injectors is covered on our first aid courses, which can take place on staff training sessions or INSET days. We aim to give staff the skills, confidence and knowledge to help in an emergency.

From the smallest nursery to the largest multi-site college, having a spare auto-injector and the ability to use it should now form part of School Policy Check our Dealing with Allergic Reactions in Schools



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