Thursday 22 February 2018

HSE 'extends sympathy' to family of tragic Emma Sloan

14 year old Emma Sloan.
14 year old Emma Sloan.
Caroline Sloan, mother of peanut allergy sufferer Emma, who died before Christmas from an allergic reaction to peanuts, is starting a campaign to make epi pens more readily available. Picture:Arthur Carron

Eilish O’Regan Health Correspondent

THE deputy chief of the Health Service Executive (HSE) today extended her sympathy to the family of Emma Sloan who had a fatal allergic reaction in Dublin city centre.

Laverne McGuinness was commenting on the tragic death of the Dublin teenager who went into anaphylactic shock from a severe peanut allergy, after mistakenly eating a peanut-based sauce.

Emma (15) collapsed and died on a Dublin street last December. Her mother Caroline is now campaigning for life-saving adrenaline pens to be made accessible in public places, to prevent another family going through this.

Ms McGuinness told the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children: "I would first like to extend my deepest sympathy to Ms Sloan and her family on the loss of their daughter, Emma, who suffered an anaphylactic reaction last December."

“As you will be aware, adrenaline auto-injector pens are used in the treatment of allergic emergencies which can be induced by certain foods (e.g. peanuts), drugs, insect bites or stings. These medicines are routinely available in GP surgeries where they are kept as part of the equipment to manage anaphylactic emergencies."

She said people with a confirmed diagnosis of anaphylaxis are prescribed adrenaline pens and shown how and when to use them. The current recommendation is that two pens should be carried with the individual at all times.

“People identified as being at risk of anaphylaxis may also be prescribed adrenaline pens. This includes people with asthma (requiring preventative treatment) or with certain food allergies - in particular peanut, treenut ("nut" allergy) or shellfish. These evaluations (including allergy tests) are best made by a doctor with training in allergy management."

Patients who experience an allergic reaction are advised to keep the injections to hand. Sufficient quantities are reimbursed under the Community Drugs Scheme to enable them to be kept at multiple locations, for instance at school, home and childminding facilities.

The HSE's "A-Z" database of health conditions and treatments on, includes a section on Anaphylaxis. This includes details on symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment and prevention arrangements. See 

Ms McGuinness added that "extending the availability of Adrenaline Pens is a complex matter and is under active consideration with the Department of Health."

"However, it should be noted that this medication is available only on prescription and an alternative would require amending legislation," she said.

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