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Oklahoma lawmaker wants to give nurses power to fight allergic reactions

An Oklahoma state representative wants school nurses to be allowed to keep epinephrine shots on hand in case children have dangerous allergic reactions. Now, law only allows students to have EpiPens at school with a prescription.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL Published: March 26, 2013

About 1 in 6 children with food allergies have discovered they are allergic after an accidental ingestion at school, according to the CDC.

Furthermore, about 1 in 4 cases of anaphylaxis at school happen to students who didn't know they had an allergy in the first place, according to the CDC.

“Children have lost their lives because they didn't know they were allergic,” Fourkiller said.

Last year, a first-grader in Virginia died after eating a peanut a friend gave her during recess, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

Afterward, Virginia lawmakers required school officials to keep epinephrine auto-injectors on site. Similar legislation has passed in Maryland and Illinois.

In Oklahoma, students are only allowed to give themselves two types of medicine at school: anaphylaxis medicine and asthma inhalers. Both types of medicine have to be specifically prescribed, and a student's parent and doctor must notify school officials in writing each school year.

School nurses and administrators are bound by the specifics of the law when it comes to who can be treated with auto-injectors, said Tricia Pemberton, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Education Department.

“The current law would allow this only to those students who have been seen by a doctor,” Pemberton said. “Rep. Fourkiller is seeking broader use.”

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