Since 1 October 2017 schools have been able to buy adrenaline auto-injector (‘AAI’) devices (commonly known as ‘EpiPens’) without a prescription, for emergency use in children who are at risk of anaphylaxis, but their own device is not available or not working.
This change was triggered by some recent cases where delays in administering adrenaline ‘may have’ contributed to the deaths of children in school.The Department of Health has issued formal guidance on the use and storage of AAIs. The key points for schools to note are as follows:
- An AAI should only be used on pupils known to be at risk of anaphylaxis, for whom both medical authorisation and written parental consent for use of the school’s AAI has been provided;
- The school’s spare AAI can be administered to a pupil whose own prescribed AAI cannot be administered correctly without delay;
- Any AAI held by a school should be considered as a spare / back-up device and not as a replacement for the pupil’s own AAI (current guidance is that affected pupils should carry two AAI devices at all times);
- Schools are not required to store an AAI – this is a discretionary change enabling schools to do so if they wish;
- A protocol in line with the Supporting pupils at school with medical conditions guidance should be established which should cover the supply, storage, care and disposal of spare AAIs and establish a register of pupils who have been prescribed the use of an AAI;
- Appropriate support and training for staff should be provided and a record kept of any use of an AAI with parents being informed when an AAI has been administered.
By Adam Taylor
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