A simple change in Oklahoma law would allow school nurses to react quickly to save children with life-threatening allergic reactions, a state lawmaker said.
House Bill 2101 would allow school nurses to use epinephrine auto-injectors, often known by the brand name EpiPens, on students they suspect are having such medical emergencies.
“When you're throat is swelling and you can't breathe, it's seconds,” said Rep. Will Fourkiller, a nurse and former teacher.
The bill passed the House of Representatives, but the Senate returned it, asking for clarification on some issues.
Fourkiller said the idea for the bill came from his wife, who is a school nurse in a rural area near Stilwell.
Students are allowed to bring auto-injectors to school only with a prescription. But nurses and other adults have few options for anyone with an unknown allergy, especially in rural communities, said Fourkiller, D-Stilwell. By the time an ambulance transported a student with anaphylaxis to the nearest hospital, it might be too late, he said.
Anaphylaxis is a fast, severe allergic reaction, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The reaction has a variety of symptoms, such as hives, trouble breathing and shock. It can cause death. Someone who is suffering from anaphylaxis needs medical attention immediately.
For food allergies, the best treatment is auto-injected epinephrine, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.