How To Use An Epipen Safely

I’m going to talk about the two different products available to treat anaphylaxis. One is the Epipen (the newer version of the Epipen) and the other is the Anapen.

Anaphylaxis is an extreme allergic reaction.  It involves the airway, the throat and tissues in and around the entire body.  That’s why it’s so concerning.  The airway can close over.  A casualty can lose consciousness and could eventually die.

Treatment is quick using Epipens. They are adrenaline auto injectors.

I’ll quickly go through them.  Both contain the same substance. They work in similar ways.  But the way they are activated is different.

Irrespective of which one it is you should read the instructions.  Both have instructions on the side of them.  They also have a little viewing window. Have a look and inspect the fluid.  Make sure the fluid inside is clear and free of anything floating in it.  Free of debris.

Also make sure that it is in date.  These come in two colours.  The green one is for children up to the age of 5.  The orange one is for 5 years and over.

Closeup Of Epipen

Closeup of an Epipen

Holding an Epipen correctly

Using an Epipen safely

The Epipen

The Epipen has been on the Australian market for a long time.  Reading the instructions it will take you step-by-step through it.  The first thing to do is remove the safety cap.

Now it is armed.  When holding an Epipen, the correct way is with your thumb wrapped around the front or around the side of it.  I’ll share why in a moment.  It has a needle that is spring loaded.  Put it against the side of the leg of the patient.  When you press it there will be an audible click.

That will activate the needle and they’ll be injected.  Hold it there for 10 or 15 seconds and remove it.  Then give the area a bit of a rub. It will help the adrenalin to go in.  Write the time you gave the injection on the pen. This goes off with the casualty.

Most people who suffer anaphylaxis may carry an Epipen.  If they have not responded in 5 minutes you can give a second one.

The lower part has a needle guard.  It covers the needle after the person has been injected. This makes it safer by removing the sharp.

Here is why we put our thumb around the front.  What sometimes happens is people take off the little blue cap at the end.  They see the hole and think that is where the needle comes through.

If that’s the case and they turn the Epipen over, and place their thumb over the orange end, they will inject their thumb.  It may seem hilarious but adrenaline does constrict the blood vessels and they can suffer from something similar to frostbite. They can even lose their thumb from it.

So always remember to wrap your thumb around the front.

The Anapen

The other unit that’s available is the Anapen. Read the instructions and make sure you understand how it works.  Check the fluid inside.

The Anapen is different.  It actually has a bit that says “needle end”.  It also has a needle guard at the bottom.  First thing you do is take the needle guard out and you place it on a surface sitting down.  The other end is basically a firing inhibitor.  It locks the needle in place.  Remove the grey cap from that end.  Place it against the leg and press the red button.  It will make an audible click.

Again, wait 10, 15 seconds.  Take it out and rub the leg to get adrenalin going through the system.  Afterwards you will have an exposed needle.  Take the Anapen and slide it back down on the cap that you put down earlier.  That will make it safe.

Write down the time that you gave the injection.  If there is no response within 5 minutes you can give a second one.