The HSE guidance for First aid at work does not include giving tablets or medicines to treat illness. The only exception to this is where aspirin is used when giving first aid to a casualty with a suspected heart attack, in accordance with currently accepted first-aid practice. It is recommended that tablets and medicines should not be kept in the first-aid box.
Some workers carry their own medication that has been prescribed by their doctor (eg an inhaler for asthma). If an individual needs to take their own prescribed medication, the first-aider’s role is generally limited to helping them to do so and contacting the emergency services as appropriate.
Medicines legislation restricts the administration of injectable medicines. Unless self-administered, they may only be administered by or in accordance with the instructions of a doctor (eg by a nurse). However, in the case of adrenaline there is an exemption to this restriction, which means in an emergency a layperson is permitted to administer it by injection for the purpose of saving life.
When can an Epipen be used?
- The use of an Epipen to treat anaphylactic shock is an example of an exemption from the restriction imposed by the medicines legislation. Therefore, first-aiders may administer an Epipen if they are dealing with a life-threatening emergency involving a casualty who has been prescribed and is in possession of an Epipen, and where the first-aider is trained to use it.