Study Provides Road Map for Improved Care of Epilepsy Emergencies by Paramedics

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Media Contact:Holly Auer | | 215-349-5659February 17, 2012

Injecting epilepsy patients with medication via an autoinjector -- similar to the EpiPens used to treat serious allergic reactions -- works more quickly to stop seizures than delivery of a drug via IV on board ambulances, according to a national study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine. Results of the trial, which included investigators from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, also indicates that patients who receive the autoinjection are less likely to require hospitalization after treatment in emergency rooms.

The Rapid Anticonvulsant Medication Prior to Arrival Trial (RAMPART) study provides a roadmap for improving and speeding treatment of status epilepticus -- severe seizure activity -- which causes 55,000 deaths each year.

"Status epilepticus is a life-threatening neurological emergency that requires immediate treatment, even before patients reach the hospital. With every minute the seizure continues, it becomes harder to stop, increasing the possibility of brain damage," said Jill Baren, MD, MBE, chair of the department of Emergency Medicine and principal investigator for the greater Philadelphia-Southern New Jersey Neurological Treatment Trials Network, which includes the community of York, PA, where the local portion of the study was performed. "This study establishes that rapid intramuscular injection of an anticonvulsant drug is safe and effective, and we believe this technique will ensure quicker, safer treatment of seizures by paramedics."

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