In September of 2013, a Corpus Christi student athlete was bitten by a fire ant on the sideline of a middle school football game. He developed a life threatening anaphylactic reaction (think throat swelling, difficulty breathing, severe facial/body swelling, hives) from this fire ant bite. For 25% of children, the first episode of anaphylaxis may occur at school. Epinephrine, which is the ONLY medication indicated for these types of reactions, was not available until EMS arrived and the student subsequently died 4 days later.
Of the 40 allergic reactions that occurred during the 2013-2014 HISD school year, only 3 students received epinephrine. Additionally, 30% of school nurses have reported using one student’s prescribed medication to help another. The cost of 1 epinephrine twin pack is less than the cost of 1 fire extinguisher, and regardless, the top manufacturers of epinephrine have already pledged (at least in the short term) to provide epinephrine for all Texas schools – and in fact already have a national program in place for this purpose.
I went to Austin yesterday to talk to our state legislators about passing the bill (SB 66/HB 566) that would mandate epinephrine in schools AND take away the liability of the people prescribing/administering this unassigned epinephrine. I did this with Dr Louis Bethea, who authored a portion of the bill, and Dr Ted Freeman, president of TAAIS (Texas Allergy Asthma and Immunology Society), along with local allergists in Austin, San Antonio, and here in Houston. Through First Tuesdays with the TMA (Texas Medical Association), we were able to discuss import medical related topics en force with a large group of physicians.
Texas is 1 of only 4 states that do not have some sort of epinephrine stocking laws in place for schools. We need to change that. Contact your local Texas state senator/representative here, and send this letter to them. They do listen to us, and together we can provide life saving medication to children in Texas schools.
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