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Chapter 12


Adrenaline autoinjector use


Adrenaline autoinjector use (Downloadable resource)

What is an adrenaline autoinjector?

An adrenaline autoinjector is an emergency device that can inject life-saving adrenaline promptly in emergency situations. It is used to treat severe allergic reactions, known as anaphylaxis, which may follow an insect bite or eating a certain food. There are two currently available commercial preparations—the Anapen and the EpiPen—each has a slightly different method of injection into the thigh, and both come in adult and child (Junior) versions. School-age children usually need the full-strength injector.

What is an Anaphylaxis Action Plan?

If you have an autoinjector, you must have an Anaphylaxis Action Plan signed by your doctor.

++ The plan

Use an autoinjector if the following symptoms develop:


  • Difficult or noisy breathing

  • Wheeze or persistent cough

  • Swelling of tongue

  • Swelling, tightness, itchiness in throat

  • Difficulty talking and/or hoarse voice

  • Persistent dizziness or fainting

  • Pale and floppy (young children)

++ Dose

  • Adult and child weighing more than 30 kg: 300 mcg

  • Child 15–30 kg (usually 1–5 years): 125 mcg

The four step use of the autoinjector (pen)
++ Step 1

  • Remove the pen from its container.

  • Then remove the safety cap from the end of the pen (pull it—don't twist).

  • Ensure that your thumb is closest to the cap end and not over the sharp end of the pen.

++ Step 2

  • Hold the pen tightly in the palm of your hand with the needle tip down.

  • Place the needle tip gently against the middle of the outer thigh, in the ‘fleshiest’ part of the muscle (with or without clothing). It should be perpendicular (at a right angle of 90°) to the thigh.


Where to place the autoinjector (EpiPen shown)

Graphic Jump Location
++ Step 3

  • Push down hard against the thigh until you hear or feel a ‘click’ (in the case of the EpiPen) or for the Anapen, press the red button until it clicks.

  • Hold in place for 10 seconds.

++ Step 4

  • Remove the pen from the thigh.

  • Place it back in its plastic container with the needle pointing down.

  • Be careful not to touch the needle.

  • Massage the injection site for 10–20 seconds.

  • Apply firm pressure with a clean cloth.

  • Record the time it was given.

  • Call an ambulance.


Rules for an autoinjector (pen)

  • Never put thumb, finger or hand over the needle tip.

  • Don't touch the needle.

  • Do not inject into the buttock.


Alcohol: harmful use of alcohol


Alcohol: harmful use of alcohol (Downloadable resource)

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