National Post via Free-Range Kids:
A Hamilton, Ont., mother has filed a human rights complaint against her daughter’s elementary school, claiming it discriminated against the six-year-old for failing to accommodate her life-threatening allergy to eggs and dairy. The case … seeks to ban milk products and eggs from her daughter’s school.” …
Ms. Glover wants the allergens removed from the school, and school and board staff get human rights training. She wants to “bring to light the fact that children have the right to a barrier free education.”
“Anything short of that is discrimination,” she says.
Trying to order medications for a heart attack victim using electronic medical records, White Coat is frustrated to run into screen after screen preventing him from completing the order without addressing unlikely allergy issues (and thus protecting the hospital from liability):
For those of you who don’t know what alarm fatigue is, think of a car alarm. The first time you hear it going off, you run to your window to see who’s breaking into a car. Maybe you run to the window the second time and the third time, too. By the tenth time the alarm goes off, you’re thinking that the alarm is broken and someone needs to get that fixed. After about thirty false alarms, you’re feeling like going out there and busting up the car yourself – especially if the car alarm wakes you when you’re asleep.
It’s a concept with many applications beyond the emergency room setting, too, product warnings being just the start.
P.S. Dr. Westby Fisher has some related thoughts about the limits of trying to engineer physician responsibility through electronic records design.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass. was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act because it failed to
* Continually provide ready-made hot and cold gluten- and allergen-free food options in its dining hall food lines;
* Develop individualized meal plans for students with food allergies, and allow those students to pre-order allergen free meals, that can be made available at the university’s dining halls in Cambridge and Boston;
* Provide a dedicated space in its main dining hall to store and prepare gluten-free and allergen-free foods and to avoid cross-contamination;
And much more. The college has also agreed to pay $50,000 to students affected by its earlier policies. [J. Christian Adams] Similarly: Hans von Spakovsky, FoxNews.
P.S. NPR report confirms demand from advocates for “gluten-free food [that] is prepared and served in dedicated areas.”
“A former city worker is suing Indianapolis after she claims the city failed to accommodate the service dog she needs due to her severe allergy to paprika.” The city had already removed certain foods from its vending machines but declined to accept a service dog as reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because a co-worker was allergic to dogs. [WRTV]
Florida: “To protect the [6-year-old] girl [with a severe peanut allergy], students in her class at Edgewater Elementary School are required to wash their hands before entering the classroom in the morning and after lunch, and rinse out their mouths, [Volusia County school spokeswoman Nancy] Wait said, and a peanut-sniffing dog checked out the school during last week’s spring break.” [Reuters]
The city of Indianapolis let an employee bring her allergy service dog to the workplace, only to discover that a co-worker was allergic to dogs. [NYTimes] More: Hyman.
“Air Canada Ordered To Offer Nut-Free Zones” [Steyn, NRO] More: National Post, CBC.
This vital step in an allergy-mitigation protocol appears not to have been undertaken by Darius Dugger of Portsmouth, Va., who says he specifically asked that Burger King omit the onions, tomato and pickle from his sandwich, but that they ignored his request, resulting in the severe allergic reaction for which he’d like $100,000. [Norfolk Virginian-Pilot via Patrick at Popehat] He says he’d already taken a bite and swallowed by the time he realized their error, as opposed to, you know, peeking under the bun to see. Earlier on West Virginia McDonald’s “hold the cheese” suit here.
“A group in Santa Fe says the city is discriminating against them because they say that they’re allergic to the wireless Internet signal. And now they want Wi-Fi banned from public buildings. … [Arthur] Firstenberg and dozens of other electro-sensitive people in Santa Fe claim that putting up Wi-Fi in public places is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The city attorney is now checking to see if putting up Wi-Fi could be considered discrimination. But City Councilor Ron Trujillo says the areas are already saturated with wireless Internet.” (Gadi Schwartz, KOB, May 20).
This website is mentioned in an article on allergies and chemical sensitivities in the workplace, specifically on the case of Susan McBride, who’s suing her employer, the city of Detroit, for not preventing a co-worker from wearing perfume to the office (see Jul. 6 and Jul. 18, 2007; earlier Detroit case, May 25, 2005). (Lisa Belkin, “Sickened by the Office (Really)”, May 1).
Kim Severson of the New York Times has this article on the growing interest among parents of food allergies:
Record numbers of parents are heading to doctors concerned that their children are allergic to a long list of foods. States are passing laws requiring schools to have policies protecting children with food allergies. But no one knows why the number of allergies seems to be on the rise, or even if they are rising as fast as some believe.
Ms. O’Brien and leading allergy researchers agree that few reliable studies on food allergies exist. The best estimates suggest that 4 to 8 percent of young children suffer from them, though the reactions tend to grow less serious and less frequent as children grow older.
Even though the science is weak, new laws and policies are enacted under the banner of child safety. Yet as David Bernstein points out, we’ve been down this road before.