Without a word, Dr. Christine Ebert-Santos walked up to school board members with a talking training device in hand.
“To inject, place black end against outer thigh. Then press firmly and hold in place for five seconds,” the device said, as Ebert-Santos held it against her leg. “Five, four, three, two, one. Injection complete.”
At the school board meeting Tuesday, April 22, at Dillon Valley Elementary, the Frisco pediatrician explained that epinephrine, also called adrenaline, is a hormone naturally produced by the body.
She was upset that pediatricians were not consulted before the board voted down an option to stock unprescribed epinephrine in schools to use in cases of undiagnosed severe allergic reactions.
In the 1970s, she said, she used epinephrine to treat kids having asthma attacks. It’s a very safe drug, she said, and the main reason children die from allergic reactions is that epinephrine was not given or was delayed.
Training devices like the one she demonstrated are free, she said, and people can learn how to use epinephrine with 30-minute training modules on allergyhome.org.
Two board members asked Ebert-Santos questions. Marilyn Taylor wondered whether Summit’s emergency services could handle anaphylaxis fast enough. Sue Wilcox asked about health conditions that would give a doctor pause before using epinephrine.
Ebert-Santos said she would have no problem giving epinephrine to her patients with heart problems.
Superintendent Heidi Pace told the doctor the main reason the board voted down the option was because school staff, most of whom have only basic medical training, did not feel comfortable diagnosing anaphylaxis.
“Then they shouldn’t be working here,” Ebert-Santos said. “That’s not the person you want taking care of your kids.”
The board didn’t discuss the issue further and unanimously approved a set of school policies, on second and final vote, without giving schools the option to stock epinephrine.
“It’s not a question of the ease of administration,” Pace said after the meeting.
If every school had a nurse, she said, this would be a different conversation.
“Then they shouldn’t be working here. That’s not the person you want taking care of your kids.”
Dr. Christine Ebert-Santos
When told the school staff did not feel comfortable diagnosing anaphylaxis