Bipartisan legislation Assemblywoman Marlene Caride sponsored to require all schools in New Jersey to maintain a supply of epinephrine auto-injectors and permit trained personnel to administer the allergy medication in an emergency was approved Thursday by a Senate panel.
The bill (A-304) amends current law to provide school nurses and other trained designees with immunity from liability for administering the life-saving drug to students without parental consent or a prescription.
“Just having an EpiPen on hand can be the difference between a kid spending recess on the playground and spending it in the emergency room,” said Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic). “If a child has his or her first allergic reaction at school and seconds count, it’s critical that the school nurse can step in and help without hesitation.”
The bill would allow trained school personnel to administer epinephrine whenever any student is believed to be having a severe allergic reaction, regardless of whether parental consent and a prescription had been secured previously. Under current law, a student cannot receive epinephrine without written permission from a parent or guardian and a physician.
“With food allergies among children on the rise, many schools are removing certain products from their menus to limit the risk to children who are allergic,” said Caride. “Having epinephrine ready for administration in case of an emergency is another way schools can protect these students.”
Epinephrine is used in emergencies to treat severe allergic reactions to insect stings/bites, foods, drugs or other substances. The hormone acts quickly to improve breathing, stimulate the heart, reverse hives and reduce swelling of the face, lips and throat.
The bill was released by the Senate Education Committee on Thursday. It was approved by the full Assembly with a 73-0-5 vote in May.