Recent EpiPen legislation is saving lives on and off the field

2015-08-24 08:19:44 by Dr. Joe Congeni - Director of Sports Medicine, as posted on the inside.akronchildrens.org blog.

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I'm happy to hear schools are taking the initiative after the Ohio House Bill 296 passed last year. The bill calls for schools to stock EpiPens and allows trainers, coaches and other sideline personnel to administer it on somebody who wasn't actually prescribed epinephrine.

Not only is it saving lives with greater access to the injectors, but also more people are being trained on how to administer the medication. Before this bill, only those families who had a child with a known allergy were trained on how to use them.

This week, I visited in studio and spoke with 1590 WAKR morning show host Ray Horner about this topic. Bee stings, certain foods, medications, animals and more can trigger a full-blown anaphylactic reaction and players don't have time to wait for a squad.

Below is an audio file and transcript of our discussion.



HORNER: In our studio, Dr. Joe Congeni, Sports Medicine Center at Akron Children's Hospital. And Joe, you wanted to start out talking about legislation in regards to EpiPens today?

DR. CONGENI: Yeah, Ray, um, Ohio in the last year, our legislature has passed Ohio House Bill 296 it's called, and it is about the use of an EpiPen.

Dr. Joe Congeni Dr. Joe Congeni

And, you know, we talk here on this show about some of the emergent things that can happen to athletes and how thankful we are that in the high-school setting we have trainers, in the youth setting, junior high, you have coaches who have to be aware of this.

But the real emergent problems are, you know, we talk about the 3 Hs: Heat, Head and Heart. Those are 3 things that all the trainers really train on so that they're ready for any of those emergent cases. We hope we don't see 'em, but if they , they're trained on what to do.

One more of those emergent situations is a full-blown allergic reaction. You know, that's called anaphylaxis and an anaphylactic reaction is where somebody's getting short of breath. They're wheezing. They're getting hives. They're itching all over the body in response to some sort of trigger.

It can be a bee sting. It can be a medication or a food or a pet or anything like that that can trigger these things.

And so, trainers for a long time used to carry an EpiPen for kids they knew were allergic, but now they have the ability through House Bill 296 to actually administer it to somebody who it was not prescribed for.

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So, they have one in the kit you start to see these types of reaction ... because the feeling is that the usefulness in saving a life is a lot better than the risk of just giving somebody .

You know, the worst scenario they didn't need it and they get a shot. And so from that standpoint, I think we're all pretty happy and we feel better.

Another thing trainers do in the high schools is they teach other personnel. ... They teach, uh, teachers and other coaches and things like that how to use it if they're not available. So, that's something that's available out there that's really useful for coaches.

HORNER: ... I think that's a great move because you're exactly right. These kids know kinda what they have to do with the EpiPens, but unfortunately, if there's a situation where we did not know , now many people do.

DR. CONGENI: Right, yeah. If it's a person who has this already, they've been taught.

HORNER: Yeah.

DR. CONGENI: If it's somebody who , and you don't want to wait until a squad has to get there.

One thing that interested me in the House Bill -- I was a little surprised to read this; I wasn't aware of it -- is anytime you administer the EpiPen, you have to call 9-1-1.

HORNER: Oh.

DR. CONGENI: That person has to be evaluated by emergency personnel. So, uh, whether it was a full-blown allergic reaction -- who knows if it's getting into the life-threatening situation -- the point is err on the side of caution. Use the EpiPen and then call the emergency personnel.

HORNER: ... I know mostly from my experience, bee stings , but is there any other area that use this?

DR. CONGENI: Yeah ... I mean it can be new meds that kids are using.

HORNER: Oh Okay.

DR. CONGENI: It can be foods. You know, people worry a lot about the peanut allergies.

HORNER: True.

DR. CONGENI: ... You know, we have to look at peanut allergies that can lead to those anaphylactic reactions and other foods, too, that are highly allergenic. Um, pets occasionally or other animals and there are multiple triggers.

HORNER: Thanks, Joe. Appreciate you coming in.

DR. CONGENI: Okay, Ray. Thanks. Have a great week.

HORNER: You too. Dr. Joe Congeni, Sports Medicine Center at Akron Children's Hospital.

Originally aired on 1590 WAKR-AM on August 19, 2015

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