A call to advocate for patients with food allergies

June 20, 2017

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Epinephrine Auto-Injector Pen for Allergic Reaction

Important food allergy statistics

  • There are 15 million Americans with food allergies and this number is only increasing.
  • 1 in every 13 children is allergic to one or more foods; this is two children per classroom in America.
  • Upon entering school, children may have their first reaction to food(s). The reaction can be severe, requiring the use of epinephrine auto-injectors in the school.
  • It is important for food-allergic children to be safe from life-threatening allergic reactions in schools.

Texas Children’s Hospital Food Allergy Program advocates for unassigned stock epinephrine

Recently, our food allergy team members, representatives from Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), several nurses, Dr. Allen K. Lieberman and most importantly several parents and their children met with key legislators or their health aides in Austin, Texas. Our goal was to urge them to support the bills being introduced during this legislative session allowing quick access to life saving auto-injectors of epinephrine to anyone having an allergic reaction. These bills (SB579, SB1101, SB1367, SB1684, HB1583, HB3893 and HB3851) are being introduced to offer liability protection, guidelines and free training for all the staff in areas such as private schools, childcare centers, public colleges and universities, and various other public places. It is important our elected officials hear from parents about their own experiences in caring for a child with food allergies. Our patients and their families shared their stories and noted their support for the bills.

Why is stock unassigned epinephrine important?

In 2015, Texas passed the Cameron Espinosa Act which allows public schools to keep an undesignated supply and stock of epinephrine auto-injectors to be used during an anaphylactic emergency. The passing of current legislative bills allowing auto-injectors in private schools, day cares, universities and other public places will enhance the ability of responsible individuals to treat and save the life of the children, adolescents and adults experiencing an anaphylactic emergency. It may be difficult to believe, but the person providing aid may be treating someone who has not previously had an allergic reaction.

As a social worker, advocating is one of the most important roles I have on a daily basis.  In fact, advocacy is stated in the National Association of Social Worker – Code of Ethics. We are all called to advocate for the well-being of our patients, families and also our communities.

Our success story

Advocates succeeded in Austin and unassigned auto-injectors of epinephrine will be available in childcare centers, public schools and also private schools in Texas. For these Untitledbills to be successful, schools and childcare centers will voluntarily choose to place the auto-injectors in their facilities. Please encourage all Texas schools to stock this life-saving medicine to keep children and adults safe. We look forward to helping the community with the implementation of these laws in 2017 and beyond.   

I would like to express my gratitude to the representatives at FARE for inviting the Food Allergy Team members from Texas Children’s Hospital to participate in this important endeavor. Also, thanks to Carla M. Davis, MD, Avina Nguyen, CHES and Daisy Tran, RN for their expertise and help.

Contact your Texas Senator and House Representative in Austin to support Food Allergy and Epinephrine legislation today! For further information, go to www.foodallergy.org.

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