OCEAN CITY — While the legislation makes no specific reference to a tragic incident in late October that claimed the life of one of the resort’s young pillars of the community, a bill was introduced in the General Assembly this week allowing food-service operations to administer auto-injectable epinephrine, or EpiPens, in the event of an emergency.
In late October, local businessman Chris Trimper suffered an extreme allergic reaction during a fundraising reception at the food service operation in the Ocean Downs Casino and did not survive. Trimper was administered an EpiPen at the scene when paramedics arrived, but continued to suffer seizures and did not survive.
Such tragedies are often followed by what-ifs as mourners attempt to come to grips with a loss. In the wake of Trimper’s passage in October, resort officials began to question if the outcome might have been different if the restaurant stored and maintained EpiPens and had staff on hand trained in their usage. Research confirmed Maryland is one of just 14 states that currently do not allow private entities to obtain, store and utilize EpiPens during emergency situations.
To that end, resort officials called for potential legislation that allowed certain private entities such as food service operations to obtain, store and train certain employees in the administration of EpiPens and, taking it a step further, suggested the legislation be called “Chris’s Law,” in honor of the late Trimper family pillar.
Senator Mary Beth Carozza (R-38) at the time vowed to research the issue and explore potential legislation. As promised, Carozza this week introduced Senate Bill 477.
The bill would “authorize food service facilities to store and make available for administration auto-injectable epinephrine for a certain purpose under the program, authorize participating food service facilities, except under certain circumstances, to obtain a certain prescription for and supply of auto-injectable epinephrine, and require participating food service facilities to store a supply of auto-injectable epinephrine in a certain manner.” The bill would also “provide that certain individuals may not be liable for not taking certain actions,” and “provide immunity from civil liability for certain individuals under certain circumstances.”
The bill defines anaphylaxis as a sudden, severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that occurs when an individual is exposed to an allergen. The bill would allow a participating facility to administer auto-injectable epinephrine to individuals who are experiencing or are believed to be experiencing anaphylaxis when a physician or emergency medical services are not immediately available.
The legislation also defines auto-injectable epinephrine as a portable, disposable drug delivery device that contains a pre-measured single dose of epinephrine that is used to treat anaphylaxis in an emergency situation.
The bill would require eligible food service institutions to obtain a certificate allowing it to obtain, store and administer auto-injectable epinephrine in an emergency situation. The certificate holder would designate certain eligible agents certified in administering the EpiPens. For example, the agents would have to be at least 18 years of age and would have to successfully complete an educational training program.
Under the legislation, the participating facilities would designate the employees who are certificate holders who will be responsible for the storage, maintenance and control of the supply or auto-injectable epinephrine. A participating facility may not obtain or store auto-injectable epinephrine unless it has at least two employees or designated affiliated individuals who are certificate holders.
The bill includes language asserting a cause of action may not arise against a certificate holder or agent who is acting in good faith while administering auto-injectable to an individual who is experiencing, or is believed to be experiencing, anaphylaxis, except where the conduct of the certificate holder amounts to gross negligence, willful or wanton misconduct or intentionally tortious conduct. In layman’s terms, those who administer EpiPens in an emergency situation are protected from liability under the state’s Good Samaritan laws, except under certain situations.
The legislation also includes language that provides immunity from liability to any physician who provides or dispenses in good faith epinephrine to a participating facility whose agents have completed the certification process.