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Adrenaline Auto-Injectors: 'Can I - Can't I?'

“Who can legally administer an adrenaline auto-injector in an emergency situation?”

Following on from the last blog where I discussed whether you should or shouldn’t administer an adrenaline auto injector, I have also been asked on many occasions and as recently as 2 weeks ago, “Can I, as a member of the general public, administer someone else’s adrenaline auto-injector and is it legal for me to do so?”

I do understand why people would be very reluctant to use an adrenaline auto-injector on someone, especially if you didn’t know how to. This is why training friends and family on the correct use of your auto-injector is so important. Also, I am sure you will have heard horror stories in the United States of good Samaritans trying to help those in medical distress only to be sued, which could only be described as mind-boggling ungratefulness, to put it mildly!

So, to save you sifting through UK law and legislation, I’ve done it for you; this is where you stand from a legal perspective.

Usually in the UK and according to the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 a “layperson” (i.e. a person without specialised knowledge on a particular subject - you or I) cannot administer a prescription medicine to another person, this is stated in Regulation 214. However, there is an exception to this, Regulation 238, which states “Regulation 214(2) DOES NOT apply to the administration of a prescription only medicine specified in Schedule 19 where this is for purposes of saving life in an emergency.” Adrenaline is one of the drugs listed in Schedule 19. Therefore, the simple answer is ‘yes’; legally, a member of the general public could administer an adrenaline auto-injector.

That said, it would be remiss of me not to state the importance of training. Adrenaline auto-injectors are all administered in the same place, the mid outer thigh, NOT, as depicted in films, dramatically plunged into the chest or arms for example. But there are slight differences to the method of administration, to see training videos for each device I would advise you to visit their websites. Training devices are available from all the manufacturers as well.

I would also go one step further - being able to administer an adrenaline auto-injector is one thing but being able to recognise a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) and act quickly could be the difference between life and death. I would urge people to take a training course… a quick google search will bring up local and national training providers.

Anaphylaxis is severe, life-threatening and rapid in onset. The risk of someone having an anaphylactic reaction is small but being able to save a life would be huge, what you do in those crucial minutes could mean a lifetime to someone else.


- By John Eshelby, ARK Director

To read more about current legislation surrounding AAI use, see here.


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