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School staffers to get more ability to use epinephrine auto-injectors

Qualified nonmedical personnel in schools would gain more

Qualified nonmedical personnel in schools would gain more authority to administer the epinephrine auto-injectors on their own in emergency situations, under new rules weighed Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, by the New York State Board of Regents. The devices are widely known by the brand name EpiPen, pictured. Photo Credit: AP / Rich Pedroncelli

School staffers trained in the use of epinephrine auto-injectors will have more latitude to use them for students in emergency situations, under new regulations reviewed Monday by the state Board of Regents.

Qualified school personnel, under the new rules, gain more authority to administer the injections on their own rather than in collaboration with emergency health-care providers. The devices are widely known by the brand name EpiPen.

In addition, schools no longer must report every single use of an epinephrine auto-injector.

New York State since 2014 has approved a series of laws and regulations meant to help schools deal as quickly as possible with medical emergencies. That includes cases in which students with allergies suddenly go into shock.

Epinephrine is a medicine commonly used to treat such reactions. Epinephrine auto-injectors are devices used to administer single injections.

One change in procedure in recent years has been an increased emphasis on having teachers and other nonmedical personnel give the injections when time is of the essence, rather than placing all the responsibility on school nurses or emergency responders.

State Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City), a key Long Island legislative sponsor of the new rules, has observed that such treatment “could mean the difference between life and death.”

“These proposed regulations would ease the burden on school districts so they can safely use these medical devices in emergencies,” said Betty Rosa, a former Bronx school administrator who now heads the Regents board as chancellor.

The latest proposed regulations will be posted for public comment until March 13, followed by a Regents vote that generally is a formality. The rules are to take effect with the 2017-18 school year, which begins July 1.

Local school administrators noted Monday that the changes in medical procedures mean that additional personnel have to be well-trained and that care has to be taken to store the EpiPens securely. Administrators acknowledged that the changes are worthwhile.

“As more and more allergies are discovered, this becomes increasingly important,” said Kishore Kuncham, superintendent of Freeport schools.

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