Wednesday, June 14, 2017
[San Mateo County] Report finds student allergy response adequate: Civil grand jury examination addresses EpiPen accessibility, training
Most San Mateo County schools seem adequately prepared to treat a student experiencing anaphylactic shock, but a report found room for improvement remains in training campus personnel to administer the potentially life-saving medication.
A San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury report issued Monday, June 12, examines the availability of epinephrine pens at local schools in the wake of a state mandate requiring the medication be readily accessible in case of a student emergency.
A majority of school officials who responded to inquiries kept readily accessible stockpiles of epinephrine auto injectors, or EpiPens, in a centralized location in case a student needs urgent care, according to the report.
“It appears that most schools are complying with the provisions of [Senate Bill] 1266 which requires the stocking and ready availability of [EpiPens] to school nurses and to personnel who have volunteered to administer epinephrine and who have been trained to recognize and treat adverse allergic reaction,” according to the report.
But more work remains to assure school workers are current on their training required under the 2015 passage of the legislation aiming to guarantee students are as safe as possible, according to the report.
The San Mateo County Schools Insurance Group, which oversees distribution of EpiPens to the county’s 160 schools and 23 districts plus the county Office of Education, should take the lead on the training initiative, according to the report.
The group ought to ensure school officials are offering annual instruction seminars for using the EpiPens, and also redistribute its information packet on the content and intent of SB 1266, according to the report.
Each district needs to make sure the EpiPens are easily accessible, complete with a list of the school personnel trained to administer the treatment and information from the insurance group about the state mandate, according to the report.
Developing policies and programs designed to guarantee students with known allergies have access to EpiPens when they are participating in events away from campus or after-school events is recommended too, according to the report.
The grand jury arrived at the suggestions following a survey inquiring about the amount of location of EpiPens available at a school; the tracking of students with allergies; the personnel trained to administer the treatment; training requirements; and more. Of the solicitations sent by the grand jury, 87 percent of the 160 public schools responded.
Guaranteeing EpiPens are available to adequately trained personnel is vital, as the treatment can make a huge difference to the health of a student having a severe allergic reaction to food, bee sting or other threat, according to the report.
“Although aware of food allergies for decades, the public has become increasingly aware of the incidence and prevalence of untoward reactions to certain foods and of the potential life-threatening severity of these reactions. ... The immediate treatment indicated for individuals experiencing severe allergic reactions to certain foods is the injection of epinephrine,” according to the report.
Applying ratios estimated by the Centers for Disease Control, as many as almost 4,000 San Mateo County students likely have allergies making them potential candidates for a reaction requiring an EpiPen injection, according to the report.
Recognizing the threat posed by allergies, it seemed a majority of the schools contacted by the grand jury were ready to respond appropriately to an emergency.
“Principals generally indicated that their faculty and staff had attended a training program addressing recognition of an allergic anaphylactic event and the techniques for using a pen to treat the student,” according to the report.
The watchdog organization has no legal authority to implement policy change, but elected officials are required to respond to a report’s findings and recommendations within two months and governing bodies must respond within three months.
June 13, 2017
San Mateo Daily Journal
By Austin Walsh