BACKGROUND: Anaphylaxis is a serious and growing concern in the school setting as the prevalence of food allergies and food-induced severe allergic reactions continues to increase.
METHODS: A cross-sectional, web-based survey was conducted regarding anaphylactic events that occurred during the 2014-2015 school year. Eligible schools were enrolled in the EPIPEN4SCHOOLS®program (Mylan Specialty L.P., Canonsburg, PA), which provides free epinephrine auto-injectors to qualifying US schools. Participating schools completed a 29-item survey on anaphylactic event occurrence and treatment, epinephrine stock, school policies regarding anaphylaxis, school staff training, and school nursing coverage.
RESULTS: Responses were provided by 12,275 schools. Epinephrine was administered on school property for 63.7% of reported anaphylactic events (1272/1998). In 38.5% (235/610) of events for which epinephrine was not used, antihistamines were cited as the reason. Only 59.4% of schools cited epinephrine as their standard first-line therapy for anaphylaxis. School nurses were most likely to be trained in anaphylaxis recognition and permitted to administer epinephrine; however, just 53.6% of schools had a full-time nurse on staff.
CONCLUSIONS: Process-related barriers to the appropriate use of epinephrine go beyond access to medication. Widespread staff training and review of school policies are needed to ensure that anaphylaxis is appropriately managed in schools.