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School Nurses Save Lives with Epinephrine Auto-Injectors

SILVER SPRING, Md., Feb. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Swift responses save lives when a student experiences an episode of anaphylaxis. As evidenced by incidents in Tennessee and Virginia this past month, having a registered school nurse on site plus an Emergency Care Plan is a life-saving combination.

The National Association of School Nurses (NASN) stresses the importance of awareness, preparedness and action in keeping students healthy, in school and ready to learn. NASN supports the need for a registered school nurse in the building all day, every day and the need for available epinephrine. School team collaboration is also crucial to saving lives. "Every school needs to have in place a Medical Emergency Response Team headed by an RN," said North Elementary Principal Vera Abbott-Young, site of a recent anaphylaxis success story. "Nurse Jennifer makes sure that all care plans for students are completed. She keeps a database of students having these plans and disseminates the information to the entire staff. Thus, because of the two yearly trainings for the entire school staff outlining the steps one must take when a child is experiencing life-threatening effects from a food allergy, Jennifer and her team helped to save the life of a child. No school should be without an RN on staff."

"We never want to see a child suffer – our message at moments like this is the need for a school nurse in the building all day, every day and the need for available epinephrine auto-injectors," said NASN President Linda Davis-Alldritt, MA, BSN, RN, FNASN, FASHA. "With the nurse, you get a professional who has the assessment skills to ascertain what is happening and the clinical skills to react in time and with the epinephrine; the nurse has the life-saving tool needed to respond to the child's emergent condition. It's the combination that keeps our children safe. Fortunately, these schools had a school nurse on site."

The administration of emergency medications, like all medications, is regulated by state laws and guidelines as well as local school district policies and protocols. Students with medical orders for life-saving medications should have a nursing assessment and an Emergency Care Plan, developed by the school nurse. It is vital that school staff know how to and be willing to respond in the event that a life-saving medication needs to be given, as a delay in the delivery of the medication can be the difference between life and death. "It's critical that school personnel know how to recognize an allergic reaction and how to administer an epinephrine auto-injector," said Maria Acebal of the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network. "School nurses are the central figures in successfully managing food allergies in schools."

Epinephrine is a life-saving drug used to treat anaphylaxis and is most often administered through an auto-injector in the school setting, making it accessible for both nursing professionals as well as unlicensed personnel. NASN supports the use of a non-patient specific order for epinephrine in the school setting as well as the availability of stock epinephrine auto-injectors for use by the registered professional school nurse. When epinephrine can be delegated to unlicensed personnel, the school nurse should be the professional that trains the unlicensed staff to administer the medication to a specific student according to his or her medical orders.


The National Association of School Nurses is a non-profit specialty nursing organization, organized in 1968 and incorporated in 1977, representing school nurses exclusively. NASN has over 15,000 members and 51 affiliates, including the District of Columbia and overseas. The mission of the NASN is to improve the health and educational success of children and youth by developing and providing leadership to advance the school nursing practice. To learn more about NASN, please visit us on the Web at or call 866-627-6767.

SOURCE National Association of School Nurses
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