Approve School Use of EpiPens

A teacher’s inclination when she or he sees a student in severe medical distress is to do something to help. But in some situations, that is illegal in West Virginia.

As many parents are aware, the state has strict limits on children taking medicine while in school. They are even tighter for educators administering medines.

For years, many health care professionals have been concerned about situations in which children suffer allergic reactions, often to food, while in school. Nearly 8 percent of children under 18 are allergic to certain foods. Many of those who suffer reactions while in school were not aware previously that they had allergies.

State Department of Education members are considering a policy that would permit many school personnel to give emergency injections of epinephrine to children suffering allergic reactions. The drug can be administered through EpiPens, a small device used commonly to help people in anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction to allergins.

Under the policy, educators would be trained by nurses to use the EpiPens.

Current law does not permit such action unless the student has a prescription or prior diagnosis of allergies. Again, some children learn of their allergies when they suffer seizures.

A bit of good news linked to the plan is that schools would be able to obtain EpiPens at no cost. Mylan Laboratories has agreed to provide up to four EpiPens to schools in counties participating in a program with the company. Good for Mylan.

State board members will accept public comment on the proposal under Nov. 9. It is possible they will hear from some people with concerns about it.

But we can think of no “downside” to the proposal. To the contrary, it could save lives. State board members should approve it.