Reports have been coming in this summer that most Quebec City day camps, which are under the supervision of the city, have instructed their counselors not to administer the epinephrine auto-injector in the case of a serious allergic reaction.
If necessary, the counselors may put the auto-injector in the child’s hand and “guide” it.
Jean-Pierre Ménard, a Quebec lawyer who specializes in medical rights, told Le Journal de Québec newspaper that the rule – intended to protect the counselors against liability – contravenes Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, since the Charter says that every human being whose life is in danger has the right to be saved. In addition, he says this “incomprehensible” rule should instead have the City of Quebec worried about prosecution for instructing caregivers, in essence, not to save a child’s life.
Similar restrictive camp policies have arisen in some parts of the United States .
Gervais Bélanger, director-general of Asthme & Allergies Québec, says he finds the day camp rules for not administering auto-injectors “inexplicable”and “unjustified” – since this puts the onus on allergic campers between the ages of 4 and 12 to self-inject at a time when they are having an anaphylactic reaction. (Epinephrine is an emergency medication, and it would be rare for a young child to self-inject.)
Bélanger is one of the members of the Coalition for Megann’s Law , which is urging the Quebec government to pass a law on school food allergy accommodations that would include school staff auto-injector training and preparedness to act in an allergy emergency.
On behalf of the coalition, he has written letters to the Quebec camping association and to the president of the Office of Professions of Quebec, the provincial agency that reviews the regulations adopted by various organizations. Bélanger makes these groups aware of a regulation amendment that the Quebec College of Physicians proposed in June to allow non-medical persons to administer epinephrine auto-injectors.
The College of Physicians has a 45-day commenting period on changes, so while its proposed amendment will clarify the rules for non-medical people caring for allergic children and ultimately should have a positive impact on day camp rules, it won’t help parents and campers this summer.