What Happens When Your 3 Year Old Shoots Himself With an Epi-pen Accidentally

Band aids make everything better...

Band aids make everything better…

This Sunday, the day after we got home from Nana’s funeral, Darrel and I were getting the kids ready to go to town to run some errands when Jed came over to us telling us he had a “Boo-boo on Jed’s tummy.”

He was holding the test Epi-pen in his hand, and lifting his shirt to show us his “boo-boo”.

This isn’t all that unusual; we showed him the test Epi-pen (the one you can use to practice with that has no medicine or needle inside) last summer and he loved it! He often will go find it and smack it against his body to make it spring open. In fact, we usually leave it in the toy box.

So we told him “Well, don’t hit yourself so hard with it, honey!” and chuckled.

For about ten seconds. 

Then I suddenly registered that – wait a second – that doesn’t look right. So I grabbed the Epi-pen from him and took a closer look.

“Omigod, Darrel – this isn’t the practice  pen – this is a REAL Epi-pen!” I shouted.

We looked at each other in shock for a second before I said “ER. NOW!”

And we swung into action.

Fortunately, we were already heading to town, so everyone was dressed and ready to go – Zac was even already buckled in to his car seat!

We were in the car, speeding down the driveway, and Jed was crying from his “boo-boo”.

I crawled into the backseat to stay with him; I didn’t know what the possible effects of taking a shot of ephedrine could be when you don’t actually need one, but I wanted to be close by to monitor him.

The hospital is about a 35-40 minute drive.

Darrel made it in 22 minutes.

I honestly didn’t know he could drive like that.

When we got there, they wheeled us in to the ER right away and began monitoring Jed. For about an hour after the unfortunate shot, Darrel and I were in a panic. By the time we’d been in the ER for about half an hour, though, the panic started to wear off.

No one there seemed all that concerned about it. (Not that they were mean or anything, more like “Oh, yeah, this happens. No big deal.”)

In fact, when the doctor finally came in to see us, he said that usually the adrenaline works its way out of kids systems in about 2 hours, and it’s not really anything to worry too much about unless they inject their fingers or toes. He said that if it happens again, we probably wouldn’t need to come to the ER.

(He did mention that Jed might be a little hyper after the shot, to which I wryly responded “How would we tell?” Darrel laughed…the doctor just looked a little confused. He doesn’t know Jed!)

The best part of all of this is that we counted while we were in the room (trying to keep Jed from pushing every button, rolling the doctors chair around, and otherwise wreaking havoc) is that this is the THIRD ER visit Jed has had due to taking or injecting medicines he shouldn’t have! 

He’s only 3!

Thank God I took all the medicines in the house (aside from the dipenhydramine and Epi-pens) and got rid of them last summer after his last self-administered dosing. I can’t imagine what would have happened if we still had our standard “medicine chest”!

Darrel is convinced he has at least twenty new grey hairs from Sunday, and I’m sure I’ve shaved at least a week or two off my life from the stress…and Jed is perfectly fine! In fact, he was perfectly fine after about half an hour.

But if you see him, be sure to ask about his “boo-boo on his tummy”. He loves to lift his shirt and show off the prick mark and tell everyone about how the “doctor fix mine boo-boo”!

In case you ever wondered what an Epi-pen shot looks like about an hour after it happens...

In case you ever wondered what an Epi-pen shot looks like about an hour after it happens…

So, this event left me with some questions: have any of your kiddos done this to themselves? What did the doctor say to you? We were told ANY Epi-pen usage required an ER visit…until the ER doctor said otherwise. Anyone have any info to clarify this conundrum?

And where on God’s green earth am I supposed to ‘hide’ an Epi-pen from Jed, when we must have it accessible in case of actual anaphylaxis??

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21 Responses to What Happens When Your 3 Year Old Shoots Himself With an Epi-pen Accidentally

  1. Ruth Pinnell says:

    Best hiding spot we’ve ever found? Top shelf of the cabinet where we keet the dishes in the kitchen. Very accessible, but not very noticeable. The six year old has yet to discover “up there”, even though he helps himself to his plates and cups on the bottom shelf. That’s also where his dad hides his secret stash of Skittles…. (grin)

  2. Michelle says:

    We just tape an epi pen to the top of the door frame to our living room. It’s in plain sight, easy to get (for an adult) and EVERYBODY knows where it is, which is good if you ever use a babysitter.

  3. Lesley says:

    I’m so glad he’s ok! That’s scary! Now I’m curious what happens if you inject it in fingers or toes…

    • Carrie says:

      I’ll be happy to NOT know that information the rest of my life, thankyouverymuch! LOL

      Actually, I think it’s a combination of smaller target=more things the needle could hit, plus the possibility of vascular dilation problems (may be using the wrong term there).

    • Kristyna says:

      My son did that tonight. Poison control said , because he injected it in his belly he is gonna be ok. Finger- it can construct the vessels and he could be getting no blood flow

  4. Lesley says:

    And I’m so sorry about your Nana! *HUGS*

  5. Lori says:

    Have you ever tried a Safety Sak? http://www.safetysack.com. They are pretty inexpensive, we used a couple for asthma meds when our oldest was young.
    It requires quite a bit of finger/thumb pincher strength to open. The also have a ring in one corner to hang the sak high on the wall somewhere. Preferably a wall where there are no cabinets or tables close. 🙂

    Good luck. So thankful the ER thought it was not a big deal.

    • Carrie says:

      Hi Lori – wow! Thanks for that link! Those look like a pretty good option; I’ll talk it over with Darrel and see what we come up with. I like the idea of having some child-resistance involved, plus being able to hang it up high. 🙂

  6. Anissa says:

    The reason Dr.’s say go to the ER for any use of Epi-pen is b/c they are assuming that it is being used for an allergic reaction. Sometimes a person feels fine after using the Epi and think they are completely in the clear from the allergic reaction when they are not, therefore going to the ER is always the way to go to be sure. A person can start to feel better and then crash rapidly a 2nd time, it is known as a bi-phasic reaction and is very much life threatening. That is why they seemed to contradict themselves when they said you didn’t need to come back for an accidental exposure to Epi as there is no worry about a reaction getting suddenly worse or the Epi not being enough to reverse the reaction.

    FYI: We deal with both anaphylaxis and FPIES in our household. :'(

    • Carrie says:

      Thanks for clearing that up! I knew about biphasic reactions; Jed had one earlier this year. I just wanted to make sure there wasn’t something important I was missing in the semi-contradictory instructions. Whew! Good to know!

      Sorry you also deal with both of those ickies. 🙁

  7. Carrie says:

    My 5 year old just used his older brothers and injected his hand should I take him to the ER?

  8. brooklyn says:

    i am 9 and i did it in my thumb
    painful so painful i yelled so loud the people next door could here us

  9. Amanda says:

    Our 3 year old injected himself yesterday with his sister’s Epi Pen. It has to be in the diaper bag everywhere we go, so for traveling, there isn’t an adult only place that works. I understand that the device has to be “easy to use” in the case of an emergency, but I am disappointed that it was so easy for a 3 year old to open the case, pull the pin, press, and inject! Seems like they could find a middle ground on the safety features.
    This did result in an ER visit.. (could have just gone to our doctor, but we weren’t close by). Because this medication can increase a child’s heartrate significantly, with or without an allergice reaction, a visit and monitoring is important no matter what!

    • Carrie says:

      Hi Amanda! I’m sorry I missed this; we’ve been sick and injured a lot the last month. 🙁

      I’m so sorry your son went through that! It was very scary when Jed did it. I would certainly recommend a hospital trip if it happens in the future; I was just surprised by the nonchalance the hospital exhibited when we were there. Crazy!!

      The good news is Jed is 5.5 years old now, and he hasn’t gone NEAR an Epi-pen since this incident! I guess they do learn from their mistakes. 😉 Hopefully your son will do the same. Hugs!!

  10. Jio says:

    I injected my hand last night with an epipen pen and I put a cloth over it because it was getting cold and its been 25 hours sense but my thumb is verry sore am I okay is it out of my system?

    • Carrie says:

      I sent you an email, but I guess you haven’t gotten it yet. Sweetie, I’m not a doctor so I can’t tell you if it’s okay or not. My advice is to go to a doctor or the ER. Our doctor said nerve damage could happen if a thumb is injected with an Epi-pen. Tell your parents and go to the ER. They might be mad, but they’ll be more upset if you have done some sort of damage to your thumb and didn’t ask for help.

      I hope it’s nothing, but it could be that the injection hurt your thumb and needs medical attention. Please go to the doctor! Keep me posted, hon. I’ll be thinking of you and praying for you. Be brave now, and go tell your parents! Hugs!

  11. melanie says:


    my 5 year old accidentally injected himself on his hand with his brothers epipen.
    not sure to go hospital, or doctor, or wait and see.

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