More than nine million children in the U.S. have asthma. According Asthma Clinic at to Dr. David Stukus, Director of the Complex Nationwide Children’s Hospital, who testified before the House Health and Aging Committee, asthma is a leading cause of missed school, missed work for parents, emergency department visits and hospitalization. During an asthma attack, the muscles around the airways squeeze and tighten, making it difficult to breathe. This can occur suddenly, and often with little warning. Every child who has asthma should have albuterol as part of his or her treatment plan, as this provides immediate relief when unexpected symptoms occur. Albuterol begins to work within a few minutes and can last up to four hours. The earlier albuterol is used, the more effective it will be. Delayed administration of albuterol is a major contributing factor during severe and life-threatening asthma attacks. Last year, according to Dr. Stukus, two children in the Columbus, OH, community died due to an untreated asthma attack and neither of them had access to albuterol.
Rep. Mike Duffey (R-Worthington) introduced House Bill 39 to allow schools and camps to have asthma inhalers on hand for use in emergency situations. He testified that in some Ohio schools, as few as 25% of children known to have asthma are actually bringing their inhalers to school. Asthma is the cause of death for approximately 135 adults and 10 children in Ohio each year and results in the hospitalization of more than 585 children under the age of 18 per year—50% under age five.
Specifically, Sub. H.B. 39 requires a school or a camp that elects to procure asthma inhalers to consult with a licensed prescriber and create a policy for use that includes, among other requirements, dosage, number of times an inhaler can be used, storage, replacement, proper disposal, training of employees and reporting requirements to state agencies. The bill would allow schools and camps to purchase asthma inhalers directly from a registered wholesale distributor and provides civil immunity for acts or omissions associated with procuring, maintaining, accessing or using an inhaler under the bill, other than willful or wanton misconduct.
Substitute House Bill 39 passed the Ohio House of Representatives by a vote of 98-0 on March 18, 2015, and is now heading to the Ohio Senate for consideration.