By Heather Legg
The school nurse has been calling me for weeks and sending home notes because my daughter’s Epipen has expired. I finally took a new one in this morning and then comes the question of what to do with the old expired one. After all, it is a needle so you don’t want to throw it in the trash and have it stick some unsuspecting person.
The nurse said she could dispose of it for me the right way. But before she did, she asked if I had administered one to my daughter. I said no, though I had used the Epipen trainer. I think I once used an expired one on an orange, but wasn’t really sure. So she had the good idea of letting me try it, but, of course, she smiled and said not on her or myself. She guided me through the steps and had me punch it in the side of her trash can. Easy enough, but I still pray I never have to actually use one on a real person.
What was better about doing this with the school nurse was that she gave me a guided lesson. It was a little better than sticking it in the orange because she showed me the red plunger in the middle that showed that the medicine had been injected and pointed out the sound it made, too.
Even if you dispose of your own expired Epipens yourself, it is best to release them before putting them in the trash. You can do stick an orange for practice, or even into the ground outside. You should never dispose of them in the trash unless they have been released. Some may think it is a shame to throw them out when they haven’t been used, but you don’t want to hold onto an expired one in case of emergency as they may be less effective. As my doctor once said, it’s a great $15 investment, even if it’s never used.
I do wonder though if the medicine inside really expires. I’d hate for someone to have to find out by using an expired one and it not working, but does the medicine really go bad in that short of time? I think mine had expired in November and it sat for two months without being replaced. Was I a bad mom because I took so long to replace it? What would have happened if my daughter had had an allergic reaction and had to use and old Epipen? I guess I should have asked about the date on her Benadryl while I was there today!
Anyway, at least practice with your old ones before throwing them in the proper way. And after you have become proficient at it, teach someone else – your child’s grandparents or your child’s teachers. Let the nurse at school keep it and show someone else, she can use it in her staff training.