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Allergens And Allergic Reactions At School: What You Should Know

Allergens, or any substance that induces an allergy or causes an allergic reaction, can be found practically everywhere. From dander off cats, dogs and other common pets, to common food products like peanuts, fruits and dairy products - even over the counter medications and grass can cause allergic reactions. And the results can be quite serious. Allergens can cause simple itching, or can lead to aspiration and death if not treated immediately. And when it comes to your children, the schoolhouse can be filled with allergens. This is particularly scary, because you may not even be aware that your kids have an allergy until they start having an allergic reaction. Here's a basic look at preparing for and dealing with allergens on school grounds.

Preparation is Critical

If you know your child has an allergy, prior planning is crucial. You should inform all of your child's teachers, specialists and the school nurse(s) of the allergy. If you know your child is allergic to a particular medication that temporarily relieves an allergic reaction (such as Benadryl, other common antihistamines or epinephrine), ensure that you inform school staff of this allergy as well. Many school registration/enrollment papers have a section to indicate you child's allergies; however, even if you include this information on the forms, it always best to remind teachers and staff of the allergy.

Likewise, always send an Epi Pen (epinephrine injection) or similar product to school with your child. Obviously, if your child is young they likely do not know how to inject themselves in an emergency, so give the injection to your child's primary teacher or school nurse. In fact, if possible, try to give one injector to the teacher and one to the school nurse. You cannot be too prepared. Plus, allergic reactions often come on quickly and can get severe very fast. You want to ensure your child gets the injection as soon as possible when an allergic reaction occurs. Having multiple injections around school property increases the likelihood that your child will receive the treatment immediately.

In the event your child is old enough to administer their own Epi Pen or anaphylaxis treatment, Georgia law allows your child to carry the Pen with them on school grounds and use it in the event of an emergency. However, you must inform the school of your child's situation and show proof that a doctor prescribed the medication. But even if your child does carry their own treatment, it is best to leave a back-up with the school nurse in the event your kid forgets their medication or cannot access it during an allergic reaction.  

If you do not know whether your child has an allergy but want to take every precaution, doctors can perform allergy tests on your child to see if they are allergic to a variety of common allergens. If an allergy is found, the doctor can prescribe appropriate treatment(s) for your child to have at school. 

Moreover, if you know your child has an allergy, particularly a severe one, you may want to consider having your child wear a medical identification bracelet. These bracelets are readily identifiable by everyone and state what your child is allergic to in the event your child is unconscious or unable to speak due to an allergic reaction.

Legal Liability For an Allergic Reaction?

Due to the fact that allergens can be unknown until an allergic reaction occurs and can even develop at any time unbeknownst to you and/or your child, school board or school staff liability for a student's reaction is uncommon. Nevertheless, it is not impossible.

Since 2013, Georgia law permits staff to administer anaphylaxis treatments (such as an Epi Pen) in the event of an emergency. In addition, schools must comply with specific food and allergen management policies and procedures set forth by the Georgia Legislature. A violation of these rules and procedures that causes injury to your child may lead to legal liability on the part of the school or school staff. However, in an effort to encourage the use of anaphylaxis treatments in schools, Georgia law does provide civil immunity for those who administer epi-pen injections and similar anaphylaxis treatments.

Moreover, the school or school officials can be liable for any injuries your child sustains if they are negligent in following the State required rules and regulations, in treating your child's allergic reaction or failing to identify or properly treat your child's allergic reaction. Nevertheless, before you file a lawsuit against the school or threaten legal action, you need to speak with a qualified personal injury attorney--like those at Murphy & Garner, LLC--to discuss the facts of your case and determine the proper course of action.     

If your child has been injured by suffering an allergic reaction on school grounds and you believe the school or school staff may be responsible, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney right away. The knowledgeable personal injury attorneys at Murphy & Garner, LLC can help you and your family recover after an accident by working to get you the compensation you deserve.

Call us today for a free consultation at (770) 537-5201, or visit us online. If we can't help, we will refer you to a specialist who can!   

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