New Law to Benefit Kids with Asthma, Potentially Save Lives

Allows schools to take action in emergency situations

CHICAGO (July 30, 2014)

The American Lung Association in Illinois applauds the Illinois State Legislature and Governor Pat Quinn for amending School Code and signing HB5892 which was sponsored by Illinois State Representative Michelle Mussman and Illinois State Senator Andy Manar. 

Rendering
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signs HB5892 into law as Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and American Lung Association staff looks on.

Current law authorizes a school nurse to provide or administer an epinephrine pen to any student that is having an anaphylactic reaction.  This new law authorizes any trained personnel (not just school nurses) to administer epinephrine pens for emergency use. 

“Asthma is one of the most common chronic childhood disorders in the nation, affecting an estimated seven million children under the age of 18; specifically 20,000 Chicago Public School students are affected by asthma. It is also one of the primary illness-related reasons that students miss school, accounting for more than 10 million lost school days nationally each year,” said Kathy Drea, Vice President of Advocacy for the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest. 

“This new law empowers trained school personnel (instead of just school nurses) to take action in emergency cases, if the child meets the criteria, and administer an epinephrine pen. Until now, other school personnel could not act in those situations,” she said. School nurses often cover several buildings and may not be easily accessible in all situations.

The bill requires that school personnel be trained to recognize when to use the medication and report how and when it was administered. The school or personnel also cannot be held liable for administering medication in an emergency situation.

Asthma is the third-leading cause of hospitalization for children under 15. In 2011, more than half of people with current asthma experienced at least one episode, or attack; children are 39 percent more likely than adults to have an asthma episode. 

The signing of this bill comes just in time for the onset of a new school year. The American Lung Association provides resources and information for families and schools on going back to school with asthma. More information can be found at www.LungIL.org. 

About the American Lung Association in Illinois
Our mission is to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is "Fighting for Air" through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.LungIL.org.