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SpencerCheatham

Ethical Dilemmas

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Here's a tough one that came out of a WFA class I took. Scouts are hiking and disturb a bees' nest. A scout with an undiagnosed allergy is stung and has a serious reaction. Another scout is severely allergic and carries a a pair of prescription epi-pens but he is not stung. As the first scout is going into anaphylactic shock do you, a first aider who is trained in using epi-pens use one of the other scouts epi-pens to save the first? Remember that this is an exercise involving a lot of screaming and yelling by panicked victims and others. Most are urging you to save their friend. The allergic but un-stung scout is reluctant to give up his pens. Do you try to talk him in to giving one or both of them up?

 

Key points:

1. It is illegal to administer a prescription drug to anyone other than the person for whom it was prescribed but...

2. Without the dose of epinephrine the first scout will surely die.

3. It often takes more than one dose to be effective and...

4. There are still bees in the area and it is possible that the scout who hasn't been stung will be and will need one or both of his epi-pens to survive.

 

In the exercise most groups decided to treat the first scout with the second scouts epi-pens. One even used force to take the pens from the second scout. As soon as the first scout was treated, the volunteer playing the second scout would scream that he had been stung and start showing signs of anaphylactic shock. The exercise usually ended with two dead scouts.

 

For Star Trek fans think Kobayashi Maru scenario. A very sobering exercise.

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Hal, if the second scout is carrying a pair of the epi pens, why not just use one of them on the first scout?

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I wouldn't use the epi pen from the second Scout if it were offered to me, let alone take it by force.

 

I would be guided by the law and the limits of the training I have, which doesn't contemplate using an epi pen on someone for whom it's not prescribed.(This message has been edited by seattlepioneer)

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I know what the law says, but given the situation you have described, the only way to save the first kid is to administer the epi-pen or get someone (EMS) there within a couple of minutes to administer epi. You are saying you would rather not break the law than save the kid? That is not really what you mean.

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>

 

 

I have no expertise except very limited first aid training. "First do no harm" is the general rule in such situations.

 

Washington State has a Good Samaritan law that prevents amateur aid givers from being sued if they are acting within the limits of their training.

 

The law and common sense is counseling taking no action unless you have some degree of expertise upon which to base your actions.

 

So I wouldn't use someone else's epi pen on someone in distress.

 

Sure hope they get better with what aid I can provide them. I suppose many may recover without that intervention.

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The boys (and adults) know what they are supposed to do. It is doing it that is difficult.

 

I think at this age (11-17), issues the boys can relate to is to stick up for what you believe and don't worry so much about what your friends think (i.e. peer pressure). As adults, we sometimes forget how difficult this can be for 14-16 year olds.

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