Comparing school environments with and without legislation for the prevention and management of anaphylaxis
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BACKGROUND: School personnel in contact with students with life-threatening allergies often lack necessary supports, creating a potentially dangerous situation. Sabrina's Law, the first legislation in the world designed to protect such children, requires all Ontario public schools to have a plan to protect children at risk. Although it has captured international attention, the differences a legislative approach makes have not been identified. Our study compared the approaches to anaphylaxis prevention and management in schools with and without legislation. METHODS: Legislated (Ontario) and nonlegislated (Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Quebec) environments were compared. School board anaphylaxis policies were assessed for consistency with Canadian anaphylaxis guidelines. Parents of at-risk children and school personnel were surveyed to determine their perspectives on school practices. School personnel's EpiPen5 technique was assessed. RESULTS: Consistency of school board policies with anaphylaxis guidelines was significantly better in a legislated environment (P=0.009). Parents in a legislated environment reported more comprehensive anaphylaxis emergency forms (P<0.001), while school personnel in nonlegislated environments reported more comprehensive forms (P=0.004). Despite school personnel in both environments receiving EpiPen5 training (>80%), suboptimal technique was commonly observed. However, school personnel in the legislated environment had better technique (P<0.001). CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that school boards in legislated environments have made greater efforts to support students at risk for anaphylaxis compared to nonlegislated environments. However, significant gaps exist in both environments, especially with respect to EpiPen5 administration, content, and distribution of anaphylaxis emergency forms, and awareness of school procedures by school personnel and parents.
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