DHI Media Staff Writer

VAN WERT — Although Ohio schools are allowed to keep emergency epinephrine on hand this year, local school districts have chosen not to due to concerns of non-prescribed use.

Epinephrine is a prescription medication used to halt anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. Ohio House Bill 296 gave permission to, but not require, school districts to stock doses of epinephrine in case of an emergency situation where a student, staff member, or visitor shows signs of anaphylaxis.

Local school districts have chosen not to carry emergency epinephrine.

“Crestview expects students who are prescribed epinephrine by their physician to carry their own medicine or provide it for use by the school nurse in the clinic,” Crestview’s school nurse, Sandra Grooms, said. The school nurses for Van Wert City Schools and Lincolnview Local Schools echoed the same.

“Due to many unresolved issues regarding un-prescribed epinephrine for general use, Van Wert City Schools does not, at this time, have a policy to stock the medication,” Theresa Whittington, school nurse for Van Wert City Schools, said. The other nurses also gave a similar reasoning.

According to WebMD, the side effects of using epinephrine include a fast/pounding heartbeat, nervousness, sweating, nausea, vomiting, trouble breathing, headache, dizziness, anxiety, shakiness, irregular heartbeat, chest pain, fainting, vision changes, seizures, and confusion.

“My biggest concern would be, and I would think this would be a parent’s concern, too, you can’t look at the picture in general you have to look at each individual child,” Candi Elliott, Lincolnview school nurse, said.

When doctors prescribe epinephrine to a person, the doctor has determined the side effects are worth the risk because the benefits of using it are greater.

Lawmakers, however, have been urging schools to adopt the new policy.

“Last year we passed a law to allow schools to stock epinephrine for anyone who needs it,” said State Rep. Terry Johnson (R- McDermott), who is a practicing osteopathic physician. “This law is critical because reports show that among children with peanut allergies who have experienced anaphylaxis at school, 25 percent had not previously been diagnosed with a food allergy.”

State lawmakers are also working on epinephrine availability in other environments as well through House Bill 200, sponsored by Rep. Christina Hagan (R-Alliance). This new bill, which has passed the Ohio House and next will be heard in the Ohio Senate, expands emergency epinephrine laws to allow entities such as restaurants, child care centers, and other public settings that serve food, to stock epinephrine auto-injectors, if they choose.