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Senators call for increased access to epinephrine shots in schools

An adrenaline injection can delay anaphylaxis until medical treatment can be administered.

Last December, the life of Katelyn Carlson, a 13-year-old high school student from Illinois, suffered a lethal allergic reaction to food she consumed during school lunch. However, Carolson could have been saved provided the school had access to an epinephrine injection.

Carlson's death prompted Illinois legislators to pass a state law that allows school nurses to administer an epinephrine injection to a student suffering a severe allergic reaction. Now, the state's U.S. senators Mark Kirk and Dick Durbin want to pass a federal law that would allow more school officials to be able to treat students if necessary.

The School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act, introduced by the senators last week, would provide financial incentives to states that require schools to have epinephrine injectors available and train school officials how to properly use the devices.

The most severe reaction to an allergen – anaphylaxis – is often treated with an injection of epinephrine, an adrenaline hormone, through a device most commonly known commercially in the United States as an EpiPen. An epinephrine injection can delay anaphylaxis long enough for a patient to be transported to a medical facility where he or she can receive the proper care.

According to Illinois radio station WJBD, the new law would also shield school officials from litigation if they make a failed attempt to help a student experiencing anaphylaxis or harm the victim in the process of administering aid.

While this law could save the lives of students with severe allergies, ultimately, if an individual knows they have a potentially life-threatening allergy, he or she should always carry an epinephrine injection with them. Public areas, such as schools, may not always have available potentially life-saving medical equipment or properly trained employees.

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