Why are California Teachers Unions Opposing Stock Epi?

in Managing Allergies, Parenting & School
Published: May 12, 2014

Teachers unions in California are opposing the passage of the state’s pending “stock epinephrine” legislation.

SB 1266, introduced by Senate Republican leader Bob Huff, would require public and charter schools to keep at least one epinephrine auto-injector and junior auto-injector on hand, as well as train at least one staff volunteer in its use and storage.

However, teachers unions in the state, including the California Teachers Association, the California Federation of Teachers and the California School Employees Association, have voiced their opposition to the bill.

“CTA members fear they could be called upon to perform medical procedures beyond the scope of any training they receive, and such situations could pose significant threats to students’ health,” notes a statement on the CTA’s website. “CTA believes the health and safety needs of children are best met through the services of a credentialed school nurse.”

The problem is many schools in California do not even have a school nurse. More importantly, anaphylaxis can progress extremely rapidly, and a delay in epinephrine administration can mean the difference between life and death. Considering that, it seems it would be better to have more people authorized to use auto-injectors in an emergency, not fewer.

It’s also important to note that allergists say epinephrine is a very safe drug, and the pre-measured doses in auto-injectors are not likely to lead to medical side effects. In terms of liability issues, the California bill does include measures for immunity should any dispute arise after a stock epinephrine device is used.

Current legislation in California “allows” schools to keep stock auto-injectors. The proposed bill would make it a requirement, which is necessary in order to qualify for the monetary incentives outlined in the federal School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act.