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Illinois bill prompted by student’s food allergy death awaits Governor’s signature

An Illinois bill that could save student lives is awaiting Governor Quinn’s signature. The bill was prompted after the death of a Chicago seventh grade student who died after suffering an allergic food reaction during a classroom party. The bill, that passed the Illinois legislature, allows school nurses to administer life-saving epinephrine injections even if the student has not been known to have been diagnosed with an allergy. Our Chicago wrongful death lawyers are happy to see this bill and hope that it is signed quickly. With young children’s current high rate of allergies, epinephrine injections could truly be lifesaving.

The thirteen year-old seventh grade student passed away of anaphylaxis in December after eating takeout food that was cooked in peanut oil at a school in the Albany Park neighborhood of Chicago. Anaphylaxis is a severe, whole-body allergic reaction to a chemical that has become an allergen. After being exposed to a substance that is an allergen, the person’s immune system becomes sensitized to it. On a later exposure to that allergen, an allergic reaction may occur. This reaction happens quickly after the exposure, is severe, and involves the whole body. An injection of epinephrine, which is a hormone, can counter severe allergic reactions by opening constricting breathing tubes, which improves blood circulation and reduces swelling.

Under Illinois state law, Illinois schools can dispense prescription medications only when a student’s physician prescribes it, parents supply the drug, and the student’s medical plan lists the medication. This law includes medications like epinephrine. Following the thirteen year old child’s death, Chicago Public Schools officials maintain that they followed the student’s health plan. With the new bill in place, a school nurse will be able to administer an epinephrine auto-injector to any student that the nurse believes is having an anaphylactic reaction, even if the student’s medical file does not indicate that he or she has been diagnosed with an allergy. Unfortunately, the Chicago injury lawyers wonder how many schools still have school nurses after the drastic budget cuts have been made throughout the state.

Read more about the new Illinois state bill at the Chicago Tribune.