There have been some great back-to-school tips and blogs published recently, but none has addressed a major concern that I have as an educator and as a parent of a food allergic child….. the issue of training. For years, many of us in the food allergy world have been advocating for proper training of school personnel in the use of the epinephrine auto-injector and the signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction. Just as we have begun to make headway, there is now a slew of new options on the market. Most of the time, more options are positive. In this case, I am concerned that it may be too much of a good thing. (One benefit of the competition is coupons, see below for offers from both Auvi-Q and Epi-pen.)
As of this school year, there will be 4 different epinephrine auto-injectors available, each with a different way of injecting. Some look similar to each other, but work differently. One is radically different (the Auvi-Q).
This is a major concern for me. Due to multiple factors (patient preference, cost, insurance regulations, prescribing physicians, etc..), there is a slim chance that only one type of auto-injector will be used by all students. Proper training is going to take a concerted effort by both the schools and parents of children with food allergies. (Even with the Auvi-Q, caretakers should not rely on the voice prompts. In an emergency situation, you must KNOW how to use the device. The voice-guided instructions should be for back-up only, in my opinion.)
What parents should be asking school personnel:
- Are you aware that there are new epinephrine auto-injectors on the market?
- How many types of epinephrine injectors are used in this school?
- Have you been trained to use each one?
- How are you going to address this?
- Do you do training for all of the staff on the epinephrine injector my child is prescribed?
Tip: Make sure to add information about training to your child’s 504 plan, if needed.
What School Personnel Need to Know:
- The new forms of epinephrine auto-injectors
- How to use each one and what the similarities and differences are between each
- Which ones are currently being prescribed to their students with food allergies
In addition, training devices should be ordered for each type of auto-injector. If this hasn’t been done yet, you could ask the parent if they have an extra trainer.
More time should be allotted for food allergy training this year in order to allow for instruction of all staff on the auto-injectors used in your particular school. Additional follow-up training should be done for all teachers and support staff directly responsible for each child (specific to the epi that child uses/carries).
****Additional instruction may be required later in the school year, if a new type of auto-injector is prescribed.****
RESOURCES YOU CAN SHARE:
How to Use Your Auto-injector:
For information on how to use your auto-injector, see our page here.
By Gina Mennett Lee, M. Ed.
Related Post HERE (Watch Out Epi-pen! Here comes Auvi-Q?)