Steps to take when your child needs to use an EpiPen at school

Partners Post, August 2015

A growing number of students have allergies, and many of these students may need to be treated with an epinephrine auto-injector, known more commonly as an EpiPen, when they have an anaphylactic allergic reaction at school. Parents who know their children have an allergy that may need to be treated at school should take the following steps:

  • Check the school's policy on administration of EpiPens. This policy may require that parents provide school officials with a written statement from the child's physician, nurse practitioner, or physician's assistant that includes the name of the medication, dose, instructions for administration, possible serious side effects, necessary emergency response, diagnosis, and a statement about whether the child is competent to possess and self-administer the medication. The policy may also mandate, among other things, that: (1) parents submit a written request to the school that officials comply with the order of a health care professional for administration of the EpiPen to the child; and (2) this written request include a statement that the school is not responsible for ensuring that the student takes the medication when he/she self-administers.
  • Notify school officials about the student's condition, providing them with a prescription, other information required under the school policy, and medication.
  • Ask for an evaluation of the child pursuant to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which should ultimately result in the development of a Section 504 Plan known in Pennsylvania as a "Service Agreement." This document will provide procedures for the child's treatment at school.  Parents should ask that school officials include staff training in the plan.
  • Notify school officials if their child wants to possess and self-administer the EpiPen and has the parent's permission and permission from the health care provider (to the extent required under school policy) to do so. The school nurse will then determine whether the student is competent to perform these tasks.
  • Ensure that if school officials determine that the student is not competent to possess and self-administer, or if the student does not want to or does not have permission to do so, the school stores the EpiPen in a place that is in close proximity to the student. Parents can also ask that the Section 504 Plan address this issue. 

If parents take these steps and maintain open communications with school officials when they feel adjustments are needed or when their child's condition or treatment changes, they will be in a good position to help school employees appropriately address the student's needs.



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