With more and more school age children needing Epipens at school, some controversy has arisen on how best to handle the keeping and the administration of the medication. Most schools have precise polices on medication, where it is to be kept, who can administer it and the transporting of it. It is important for you to know where your school stands on these policies and even more important that you are comfortable with it and to know what you can do if you’re not.
When my daughter was first diagnosed with an allergy and needed an Epipen, I looked for all the information I could get, I wrote letters, and I talked to the doctors and school personnel. I learned that some schools (ours being one) greatly prefer that the Epipen stay in the nurse’s office. At first I was taken aback at this and did obtain a letter from the allergist stating she needed her medication close by at all times. In the long run, however, I realized I actually prefer her medication to remain in one place at all times, instead of following her around the school.
I’m not sure of the severity of my daughter’s allergy (but that alone is another story) and with her being in elementary school with the nurse’s office in a central location, I feel confident that if something were to happen, she could get there very quickly. Elementary school students really don’t carry backpacks with them throughout the day, though they do switch classes often (going to art, music, PE, lunch, recess). I didn’t want to put the responsibility of carrying an Epipen on her. I also feel it’s better to keep it one place rather than have the teachers pass it around between them. What if there is a substitute teacher who forgets, what if a regular teacher forgets and a reaction occurs. Do we really want to play “Where is the Epipen?”
It’s also important that the Epipen is in the hands of someone who is capable of administering it. I know the school nurse is, but do I know that the substitute art teacher is? Would someone else be too quick to give it, or worse, too slow? I am confident that the nurse can make the right judgment call; she also has all of my emergency numbers and our emergency medical plan on record.
It is important that teachers take medication (Epipens, antihistamines, whatever your child needs) with them on field trips and I always send in a reminder note to them to do this. Other than that, I like it to stay put until my daughter can carry it with her. That’s my comfort level, it’s up to you to find your own and assert your rights and yourself to make sure the school does what is best for your child, not their policies.
- Heather Legg