New Law Expands First Responders' Use of EpiPens in Emergencies
Legal liability can prevent administration of life-saving injections for allergic reactions. A new law signed by Governor Bruce Rauner aims to change that.
Senate Bill 2226 expands the first-responder program known as Annie LeGere’s Law, protecting medical authorities from liability for prescribing epinephrine injectors such as the EpiPen to law enforcement agencies.
Annie LeGere’s Law created a first-responder program in January 2017, after Annie LeGere’s death in August 2015. At 13 years old, Annie suffered a severe allergic reaction during a sleepover, and first responders were unable to produce an EpiPen that might have saved her life. She died nine days later in a hospital from brain injuries resulting from the anaphylactic shock.
The passage of Annie LeGere’s Law allowed first responders to carry epinephrine auto-injectors, but did not protect doctors from liability if they prescribed the medicine for police use. Though Rauner signed the January 2017 law, police officers still were not carrying EpiPens.
In August 2018, during the passage of SB 2226, Governor Rauner said, “The amendments included in SB 2226 should make availability of these life-saving devices more widespread by removing hesitancy among members of the medical prescribing community and increasing confidence among the officers who receive the advanced training needed to administer them.”
Joining him during the signing was Annie’s mother Shelly LeGere, an advocate for public education about food allergies who has lobbied for legislation to expand EpiPen use. “I'm just forever grateful,” LeGere said after Rauner signed the legislation. “It seems like it's been a really long time.”
“Getting this medicine is the difference between life and death frequently,” said state Sen. Chris Nybo, R-Elmhurst, who sponsored the legislation. “I’m grateful that Gov. Rauner recognizes the crucial and life-saving importance that this EpiPen legislation provides to the community.”
During Rauner’s signing, an Elmhurst doctor signed a prescription allowing community police to carry the epinephrine auto-injectors in emergency kits. Elmhurst’s police force was trained to use the injectors last year, and the new law will allow them to carry them.
Now, any police department in the state of Illinois can carry the injectors. SB 2226 includes physicians, physicians’ assistants, and advanced-practice registered nurses in its protected class for prescribing epinephrine for an Illinois police department.
“There’s nothing I can do…to change what has happened,” LeGere said, “but my goal is to change what happens in the future.”
“We are so sorry for your loss,” Rauner said, “but every day we can cherish Annie's memory through this good work. Every life we save—and there will be many lives we save—through this legislation…will be due to Annie and to you.”