Recently we heard about the tragic case of 16 year old boy who died following an anaphylactic reaction from eating a walnut biscuit at school. This case highlights how important it is to identify any child at risk of anaphylaxis and to minimise the risk of an anaphylactic reaction occurring. While older children may have more understanding of their condition than a younger child, and be able to accept some responsibility for managing their condition, educators must remain vigilant in the management of this life threatening condition. Children of any age are likely to view an allergic reaction differently to adults. For example, in the case of the 16 year old boy, media reports indicated that he classified all nuts as peanuts and believed he was okay to eat walnuts. Older children may also be concerned with fitting in to their peer group. We all know how important friends are to older children, much more so than their parents or adults!
OSHC services are required to comply with the national regulations on medical conditions. For a child with anaphylaxis, the requirements include setting out in their medical conditions policy how to manage a child’s anaphylaxis, having a medical management plan and a risk minimisation plan, and a communication plan to ensure everyone is aware of those plans and parents know how to advise changes.
Children with anaphylaxis must always have their EpiPen or other medication at the service. While older children can administer their own medication, a child having an anaphylactic reaction may not be able to do this. It is vital that at least one educator trained in the management of anaphylaxis is present at all times and can attend to the child. This includes training in the use of an EpiPen if relevant.