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Chicago Public Schools To Begin Stocking Epipens

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Schools can now stock "epipens" for food-allergy emergencies. (CBS)

Schools can now stock “epipens” for food-allergy emergencies. (CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago Public Schools plan to begin keeping medication on hand to treat allergic reactions that could prove deadly to students.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Conway reports, under a state law signed by Gov. Pat Quinn in August of last year, Illinois school districts are permitted to stock Epipens and administer shots of the hormone epinephrine to any student suffering a severe allergic reaction without worrying about liability.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Conway reports

Under state law previously, students could carry their own Epipens and staff could administer injections. But schools could not stock Epipens themselves.

By the beginning of next school year, CPS plans to stock four to six Epipens for each school, at a total cost of about $195,000, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Even though schools have been allowed to stock Epipens for five months now, as late as just two weeks ago, the Chicago Public Schools had not received any and had no indication that any were coming.

Dr. Richi Gupta of Children’s Memorial Hospital had been seeking to change that, but she said there were issues, such as addressing potential liability concerns and cost. The price is about $100 per pack.

There is also one loophole in the law. Only nurses are supposed to administer epipens and most of CPS’s nurses are part-time.

Gov. Pat Quinn’s office pointed out last year that a growing number of American children are being diagnosed with food allergies. A total of 1 in 13 children suffered from food allergies as of 2011, and nearly 40 percent have a severe reaction, the governor’s office said.

Peanuts are the most common allergen, followed by milk and shellfish, the governor’s office said.

Just over a year ago, a Kateyln Carlson, 13, died of a severe allergic reaction to food while in school at the Thomas A. Edison Regional Gifted Center, 4929 N. Sawyer Ave.

Katelyn had eaten peanuts inside food her seventh grade teacher ordered from Chinese Inn Restaurant for a Dec. 17, 2010, class holiday party.

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