Investigation launched after girl dies from nut allergy

Last updated 18:43 23/12/2013
Emma Sloan
REFUSED EPIPEN: Emma Sloan died from a peanut allergy when a pharmacy refused to give her mother an EpiPen without a prescription.

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A teenage girl has died outside a pharmacy in Ireland after a staff member refused to give her family an EpiPen to inject her for a nut allergy because she didn't have a prescription.

Emma Sloan, 14, was out for dinner in Dublin with her family when she accidentally ingested a sauce containing nuts that she mistook for curry, the Irish Herald reported.

The teenager suffered a severe allergic reaction but was not carrying an EpiPen, which delivers a shot of adrenaline that can reverse the effects of a severe, fast-acting reaction known as anaphylactic shock.

The family went to a nearby pharmacy and pleaded for an EpiPen but Emma's mother, Caroline Sloan, said a male staff member refused to give them one without a prescription.

"He told me I couldn't get it without a prescription. He told me to bring her to an A&E," she told the newspaper.

Sloan said she tried to take Emma to Temple Street Hospital, but her daughter collapsed and died on the way.

"She died on the footpath. A doctor was passing and tried to help and put her into the recovery position. Ambulance and fire brigade men worked on her. But she was gone," Mrs Sloan said.

"My daughter died on a street corner with a crowd around her.

"I'm so angry I was not given the EpiPen to inject her. I was told to bring Emma to an A&E department. Emma was allergic to nuts and was very careful. How could a peanut kill my child?

"I want to appeal to parents of children with nut allergies to make sure their child always carries an EpiPen with them."

Regulations prohibit the dispensing of EpiPen injections without a prescription, the Irish Herald reported.

Sloan said she had gone to an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet with Emma and her two other daughters on Wednesday evening for a family meal.

While Emma was usually extremely careful about what she ate, on this occasion she overlooked a sign that warned a sauce contained nuts, she said.

"Emma has always been very careful and would check the ingredients of every chocolate bar and other foods to be sure they didn't contain nuts," she told the newspaper.

"She had a satay sauce. She thought it was curry sauce because it looked like curry sauce and smelled like curry. I'm not blaming the restaurant because there was a sign reading 'nuts contained' but it wasn't noticed. After a while, Emma began to say, 'I can't breathe, I can't breathe'."

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Police and the pharmacy regulatory body, the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland, have launched an investigation into the girl's death.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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