ED Nurse's Quick Response and Information-Sharing Reassures Parents


Experiencing an unexpected allergic reaction can be stressful, painful and generally unpleasant for most people. But for one Franklin County family and their 10-year-old child, the situation quickly turned life-threatening.

The evening in early April started out like any other for Ashley LaBare and her son, Jaxson. Shortly after Jaxon’s bedtime, however, things took a scary turn: Jaxson began experiencing an allergic reaction to medication he had taken just a short time earlier. At the time though, Ashley said, it wasn’t clear what was happening to Jaxson, or why.

“He’s a typical ten-year-old boy,” she said. “He doesn’t hold back. You just have to constantly monitor him: what’s he touching, what’s he getting into?”

Unexpected allergies are nothing new for Ashley and her husband, Cody. Jaxson is allergic to a wide variety of things, including many medications, and the family has epi pens -- a device that automatically injects epinephrine, which is used to treat serious allergic reactions – on hand just in case. But on this evening, it wasn’t immediately clear what had gone wrong.

“His whole body was in hives, and he was having trouble breathing,” said Ashley of what Jaxson was experiencing when they decided to bring him to Alice Hyde’s Emergency Department. “It’s scary when he gets sick, because you just don’t know (the cause).”

Ashley had called ahead, to let the Alice Hyde ED care team know they were on the way. When they arrived, they were met immediately by Frank Maggio, RN, a registered nurse who examined Jaxson and began administering epinephrine – while also walking Ashley and Cody through what he was doing and why.

“He was just so reassuring and walked me through everything he was doing,” Ashley said of the family’s experience in the Alice Hyde ED that evening. “Jaxson is allergic to a lot of stuff, and we have an epi (pen) but thankfully we’ve never had to use it.”

Maggio, who was training a nurse graduate that evening as well, also gave Ashley and Cody some important tips regarding treatment for any severe reactions Jaxson may experience in the future – including to be sure that epinephrine is administered directly rather than alongside fluids or any other medication. It’s critical that the treatment isn’t diluted, so it can quickly improve breathing, stimulate the heart, and reverse reactions like hives or swelling.

“It reassured me that I knew what to do next time,” said Ashley of why Maggio’s real-time explanations made a positive impact for her. “I have no medical experience, so I didn’t know what the best route was. Now I have that information when I’m advocating for my child.”

After spending about four hours in the Alice Hyde ED – the required waiting period for patients experiencing a severe reaction like Jaxson’s – the family was able to return home with one very tired boy in tow.

“Jaxson was exhausted and sound asleep when we left, but he still remembers Frank and talks about how nice he was,” said Ashley, who added that she was thankful for how quickly her son was seen by the ED care team.

“It’s awful as a parent to realize that you could lose somebody over something like this,” she said. “It was truly a worst-case scenario; but it’s also the best experience I’ve ever had in the emergency room. Jaxson was treated quickly, and Frank did an amazing job taking care of him and reassuring us as parents.”