Today’s correspondent asks:
In QLD, can workplaces purchase, keep and administer an Epipen to a person who is not diagnosed as having anaphylaxis? What does the Health Drugs and Poisons Act allow and is there any other legislative considerations?
Epipens contain adrenaline, a schedule 3 drug. The Health (Drugs and Poisons) Regulation 1996 (Qld) r 243 says:
(1) A person must not dispense, prescribe, purport to prescribe or sell an S2, S3 or S7 poison unless the person is, under this regulation, endorsed to dispense, prescribe or sell the poison.
(2) A person must not administer an S2 or S 3 poison to someone else unless the person is, under this regulation, endorsed to administer the poison…
(5) Subsection (6) applies to a person who may only administer, dispense, issue, prescribe or sell a poison, or write a written instruction or give an oral instruction for a poison, at a stated place or under stated conditions.
(6) The person must not administer, dispense, issue, prescribe or sell the poison or write a written instruction or give an oral instruction for the poison at another place or in contravention of the conditions.
There is no specific authority for a first aider or an employer to supply or administer adrenaline. There is an authority for St John Ambulance to issue adrenaline to members (r 262A).
A person who has a clinical need for adrenaline eg they have been diagnosed with anaphylaxis or care for someone who has, can buy it from a pharmacist without further authority (r 277(1)(b)). Further a pharmacist may sell adrenaline to a ‘relevant person for use for first aid’ (r 277(7)(b)). A relevant person is (s 277(8)):
(a) a person who may administer an [sic] S3 poison under an approval; or
(b) a Queensland approved provider of a QEC approved service; or
(c) a supervisor for a QEC approved service; or
(d) an approved provider of an education and care service; or
(e) a nominated supervisor for an education and care service; or
(f) a principal of an educational institution; or
(g) a person nominated by a principal of an educational institution.
The fact that the regulations makes provision for St John Ambulance (Qld) and educational institutions and those who may administer a S3 drug with an approval demonstrates that the regulator has consciously thought of the issue. The regulator could give a general authority to any person who holds a first aid certificate, but they have not done so.
The conclusion is therefore that without a specific endorsement issued under the Health (Drugs and Poisons) Regulation 1996 (Qld) a workplace (other than an educational institution) cannot purchase, keep and administer adrenaline, in the form of an Epipen for the purpose of having it on hand ‘just in case’ a person who is not diagnosed as having anaphylaxis requires it.
For related posts see https://emergencylaw.wordpress.com/page/2/?s=%22schedule+4%22+drugs
This will result in deaths and is against ARC guidelines and all teaching in First Aid.
I means a First Aid qualified person with an Epi Pen who sees a individual suffering an anaphylactic reaction must NOT follow the Nationally recognized teachings and save their life?
Could QLD health be guilty of actions that caused death?
My answer does not mean ‘a First Aid qualified person with an Epi Pen who sees a individual suffering an anaphylactic reaction must NOT follow the Nationally recognized teachings and save their life’. It means a company cannot buy epipens and have them in the office ‘just in case’. That is not the same thing at all.
Actually, for junior sporting clubs it is possible in Queensland to make application to the Chief Exectuive for approval for the club to purchase epi pens and store on sight with approved first responders given approval to access and administer as required. I agree though, the same approval would not be given to a work place as you correctly point out.