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Last night, I read a horror story about a baseball coach who assaulted his star player after training because she made his son look bad as the eternal number 2. He fed her peanuts while she had a nut allergy twice and then forced himself on her. There were several minutes between the time she was first fed the nuts and when she managed to use her epi-pen, at least enough time for her coach to feed her a second handful of nuts, drag her into the announcer's area and violate her.

What I found weird was that she started feeling better instantly and managed to overpower the coach, run away, ambush him and beat him to death with her baseball bat in a few minutes. She also didn't go to the hospital afterwards to get further treatment for the reaction.

I thought that an epi-pen needed more time to work, especially if there's also the stress from the simultaneous assault. I also thought that an epi-pen is not a magic health potion that removes the entire problem instantly and removes the need for a hospital visit to at least check up on things.

Does an epi-pen really work in this way, or was this a severe case of artistic license: medicine?

  • Addendum: I tried to keep the description of the story from being too graphic, but if it's still too explicit for this SE site, I understand if someone would edit it. also, I won't link the particular story since that would probably negatively affect our rankings on search engines and might even get us into trouble with corporate filters. – Nzall Aug 27 '15 at 7:32
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Mild case of artistic license.

The effects of epinephrine are rapid and can be dramatic, but they're not long-lasting. EpiPens are only intended as a delaying tactic to buy time for the patient to get to more definitive medical care.

But how much that matters depends on the severity of the reaction. If someone had a relatively mild reaction and used an EpiPen, could they continue to function and recover without medical care? Yes, absolutely, especially if their exposure was limited. EpiPens didn't always exist, after all, and anaphylaxis has never been 100% fatal.

But if the character was portrayed as having a severe, potentially lethal allergy to peanuts and was force-fed handfuls of them, I would expect her to spend days in the hospital, quite possibly in an ICU. She might manage to run or put up a fight for a while, but not for long.

Portraying epinephrine as a magic potion was definitely artistic license.

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    +1 Good answer. Looks like you covered all the bases. I was going to reference this pdf, but yours is more readable for the lay-person. – whitebeard Aug 28 '15 at 9:58

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