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Highlights of the Michigan School EpiPen Law

Why did the Legislature Pass This Law?

Legislators were concerned that children could have a serious allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis, while at school and may not have access to an EpiPen1  to slow the reaction in time for medical treatment. A serious reaction could be caused by a variety of allergens, including exposure to certain foods, latex or bee stings. Symptoms of such a reaction can include itching, hives, swelling, difficulty breathing, fainting and even death. Serious allergies can develop over time, so children and parents may not even be aware that they are prone to such a reaction.

The Legislature hopes that by ensuring there are EpiPens available at the school, adults and children who have severe allergic reactions will have rapid access to potentially life-saving EpiPens.

What Steps Should a School District Take?

Beginning in the 2014-2015 school year, Michigan statute requires that most school districts adopt policies to ensure that EpiPens are available in case of a severe allergic reaction.2 The Michigan Department of Education has issued model policy and guidelines for responding to an anaphylaxis emergency at school.3

School districts must also:

  • Stock at least two EpiPens in each school building.4
  • Ensure that at least two school employees in each building are trained to use and properly administer an EpiPen.5
  • Attempt to gather private funds to implement the requirements of this law. If the attempt to privately fund the effort is unsuccessful or is only able to partially fund the implementation, the school board may apply to the Michigan Department of Education for reimbursement for the unfunded costs incurred.6
  • Submit annual reports to MDE describing, among other things, the previous year’s use of EpiPens in schools.7

Which Students Would Receive an Injection?

  • Pupils who have EpiPen prescriptions on file with the school.
  • Any other individual on school grounds who is believed to be having an anaphylactic reaction.8

What About Liability?

Michigan law authorizes a school district to keep and use EpiPens to treat severe allergic reactions. Also, school employees cannot be held liable for criminal sanction or civil damages so long as they administer EpiPens in good faith and accordance with the EpiPen law.9 However, if the school employee acts or fails to act in such a way that amounts to gross negligence or willful and wonton misconduct, this criminal and civil immunity would not apply.10 School districts and members of school boards are also shielded from liability for civil damages under this section of law.11

School employees who are either registered nurses or who are trained in EpiPen use may possess and administer the EpiPens that are prescribed to the school board.12

How can a School District get a Prescription for EpiPens?

Usually a prescription drug must be prescribed by a doctor for a specific patient. In order to ensure that every school building has EpiPens, the Michigan Legislature has given prescribers the authority to write prescriptions for a school board so that schools can meet the requirements of the EpiPen statute.13


1 EpiPen is a trade name for an epinephrine auto-injector. Other brands of auto-injector are available and would meet the requirements of state statute. For ease of reading, we have chosen to use “EpiPen” to refer to any epinephrine auto-injector.

Detailed policy requirements can be found in statute MCL 380.1179a

3 The MDE guidance can be found at: www.michigan.gov/documents/mde/Epi_Addendum_6-18-14_461400_7.pdf

4 MCL 380.1179a(2)

5 For schools with fewer than 10 instructional and administrative staff members, only one employee must be trained. MCL 380.1179a(1)

6 MCL 380.1179a(6)

7 MCL 380.1179a(5)

8 MCL 380.1179a (2)

9 MCL 380.1178

10 A court could find gross negligence when someone has acted seriously carelessly. Generally, so long as a person is acting reasonably, they are not acting negligently, even if something bad happens as a result. To be grossly negligent, there would be no question that what a person did was unreasonable.

11 MCL 380.1178

12 MCL 333.17744a

13 MCL 333.17744a