People with epilepsy are afraid to talk to their doctors. How California can change that.

In response to an opinion letter featured last week, Opinion: Lots of people lie to their doctors. My father did — with tragic results (April 25, 2024), the Epilepsy Foundation Los Angeles’ op-ed was published in today’s issue of the Los Angeles Times: People with epilepsy are afraid to talk to their doctors. How California can change that. The op-ed is available online and the content of Epilepsy Foundation’s op-ed is provided below.


We at the Epilepsy Foundation Los Angeles were heartbroken to read Paul Karrer’s article about his father’s death.

His story, however, is a tragic outlier. Adults with well-controlled epilepsy are involved in fewer crashes than drivers with many other medical conditions. One study found that a fraction of 1% of all car crashes are caused by a person with epilepsy.

People with uncontrolled epilepsy or who are not taking their medication as prescribed should not be driving. People should also be honest with their doctors — but California is one of only six states that requires doctors to report anybody with epilepsy to the government, making many afraid to speak openly to their physicians.

That’s why we support Senate Bill 357 by Senator Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge). SB 357 would replace an ineffective mandatory reporting system with one that promotes honest dialogue, while maintaining the DMV’s authority to withhold or suspend a license from a potentially unsafe driver.

Too many people with epilepsy live in fear and shame of their condition. As we learned from Karrer’s piece, making people afraid to talk about their seizures with their own doctors can have tragic consequences.

David Parker and Rebekkah Halliwell, Los Angeles

The writers are, respectively, a board member and the executive director of the Epilepsy Foundation Los Angeles.

April 29, 2024

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Driving Bill Passes State Senate Judiciary Committee

For Immediate Release: April 26, 2023
Contact: Lerna Shirinian, (818) 409-0400

Senator Portantino Bill Protecting Drivers with Epilepsy Approved by Senate Judiciary Committee

Sacramento, California Senate Bill 357, authored by Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D – Burbank) was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill gives doctors the discretion to report personal conditions they believe will impair a patient’s ability to drive. It further removes language that discriminates against specific conditions, including epilepsy.

“The discriminatory practice of mandatory reporting in California needs to be addressed,” stated Senator Portantino. “SB 357 protects drivers with epilepsy by improving the patient-physician relationship and allows individuals affected by epilepsy to seek the care they need without fear of losing their driving licenses.”

Epilepsy is the fourth-most common neurological disorder, affecting more than 3.4 million Americans and more than 425,000 Californians. Yet here in California, a 1957  state law discriminates against drivers with epilepsy and other conditions by requiring physicians to automatically report these drivers to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Research has shown that these requirements often result in patients withholding crucial information from their physicians and not seeking the care they need. This is due to fear of losing their right to drive.  When a person with epilepsy withholds critical information from their doctor, they jeopardize their access to appropriate care, risking an increase of seizure activity or even a loss of seizure control.

SB 357 will:

  • Give doctors the discretion to report conditions they believe will impair a patient’s ability to drive, by removing language that discriminates against specific conditions, including epilepsy;
  • Allow but not require doctors to make such reports;
  • Protect the doctor-patient relationship by providing immunity for physician for either reporting or not reporting patients.

SB 357 will also require the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to publish a report by 2027 on the differences in patterns of reporting and crash rates under a voluntary reporting system. The bill will add a sunset on the voluntary reporting system for 2029.

“We thank Senator Portantino for authoring this important legislation that will protect the doctor-patient relationship, improve access to care for people with epilepsy and end decades of discrimination against the more than 425,000 Californians living with epilepsy.” said Rebekkah Halliwell, Executive Director of Epilepsy Foundation Los Angeles. “Based on an outdated law from 1957, California requires doctors to report all patients with epilepsy to the DMV, but research has shown that mandatory reporting requirements may lead people with epilepsy to withhold crucial information from their doctors, risking an increase in seizures, which can lead to injury and even death. People living with epilepsy should be able to seek care from their doctors without fear of losing their driver’s licenses. We are hopeful that this important measure, which will still allow doctors to identify any patient they believe might not be able to drive safely, will continue to move through the legislative process.”




Epilepsy Walk Los Angeles Returns to the Rose Bowl with Celebrities Josh Duhamel, Greg Grunberg and Renowned DJ Hapa

LOS ANGELES, March 24, 2023 — The Epilepsy Foundation Los Angeles is hosting its Epilepsy Walk Los Angeles at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Sunday, March 26 from 8 am to 12 p.m. The Epilepsy Walk is a fun-filled community event, with a serious cause, that gives everyone an opportunity to share their story, learn more about epilepsy, and connect with others affected by seizures. All, while raising funds for the 160,000 people living with epilepsy in the Greater Los Angeles region. The master of ceremonies for this year’s Walk is Josh Duhamel (“Transformers,” “Shotgun Wedding”), who is joined by Greg Grunberg (“Heroes,” “Star Wars,”), renowned DJ Hapa, who is considered one of the best disc jockeys in the music industry and Senator Anthony Portantino from California State Senate District 25.

“Everyone is needed in this fight,” said Rebekkah Halliwell, executive director, Epilepsy Foundation Los Angeles. “By walking and sharing, you inspire others to do the same. As our numbers grow, even more people will take notice so we can raise even more funding for epilepsy care and research. Individuals, their families, and friends can walk in person, or walk your way at home, whenever and wherever they’d like.”

Epilepsy can affect anyone. Over a lifetime, one in 10 people will have a seizure, and one in 26 will be diagnosed with epilepsy. Despite its prevalence, epilepsy receives 10 times less funding than other brain disorders.

In addition, the Epilepsy Foundation Los Angeles is rallying the community to put their heels, walking shoes and flip flops on display in a social media campaign timed to the Epilepsy Walk. People can take part by posting a photo of their favorite shoes and the story behind them – their epilepsy story – on their social media channels with the hashtag #Sharemyshoes and tagging @epilepsylosangeles.

For more information, or to register for the Walk visit

Seizure Safe Schools Act Signed by Governor Newsom

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                      Contact: Rebekkah Halliwell

October 4, 2022                                                                                                  (310) 670-2870

Seizure Safe Schools Act Signed by Governor Newsom

Bill Championed by Epilepsy Foundation Los Angeles Provides Schools with Education and Training for Recognizing and Responding to Seizures

California Becomes 19th State to Enact Version of Seizure Safe Schools Legislation

LOS ANGELES – The Seizure Safe Schools Act (AB 1810), a bill allowing public and charter schools in California to designate volunteers to receive training and education on caring for students with epilepsy, was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom on September 30, 2022. The Seizure Safe Schools Act, sponsored by the Epilepsy Foundation Los Angeles and authored by Assemblymember Marc Levine, had previously passed the State Senate in August with a unanimous vote of 38 to 0 after being approved by the State Assembly in May by a unanimous vote of 76 to 0.

“The adoption of the Seizure Safe Schools Act is a major victory for the nearly 60,000 kids in California with epilepsy,” said Rebekkah Halliwell, Executive Director of the Epilepsy Foundation Los Angeles. “Thanks to the leadership of Assemblymember Marc Levine and the steadfast support of a diverse coalition which included families affected by epilepsy, disability advocates, pediatricians and school nurses, schools in California will be well-equipped with the tools necessary to provide a safe and enriching environment for students with epilepsy.”

Among its major provisions, AB 1810 will allow schools to designate volunteers to receive initial and annual refresher training on recognizing and responding to seizures, including the administration of a student’s prescribed emergency anti-seizure medication.

“Children with seizures can be as safe at school as they are at home,” said Assemblymember Marc Levine. “Families are not powerless – we are empowered with tools to help our children live full, enriched and dynamic lives. AB 1810 makes sure that the same tools used to keep children with seizures safe at home are available to children at a school campus. I authored this important legislation for my child and for children throughout California who deserve to thrive in a safe and supportive learning environment.”

While school nurses are currently trained to recognize and respond to seizures, one may not be onsite or available when a seizure occurs. In 2013, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled that California law already expressly permits trained, unlicensed school personnel to administer prescription medication and AB 1810 will guarantee that any employee who volunteers to care for a student with epilepsy will receive appropriate training and education.

“School nurses are the primary health professionals in a K-12 setting and the California School Nurses Organization was proud to support AB 1810. This law will provide school nurses with the tools they need to prepare and train other school staff to be able to respond appropriately when a child has a seizure,” said Sheri Coburn, Ed.D., M.S., R.N., of the California School Nurses Organization.

AB 1810 also safeguards physician-directed care and parental involvement by supporting development of Seizure Action Plans for students with epilepsy and identifying students who may be eligible for Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and Section 504 accommodations.

“Seizure Action Plans save lives. By establishing a strong line of communication between the families of students with epilepsy, their doctors, and their schools, Seizure Action Plans are a crucial tool for keeping students with epilepsy safe at school,” said Tracy Dixon-Salazar, PhD of the Seizure Action Plan Coalition, which was formed to educate people with epilepsy, their caregivers and healthcare professionals about seizure emergency rescue protocols and the importance of personalized seizure action plans.

AB 1810, which is based on the Epilepsy Foundation’s Seizure Safe Schools nationwide initiative, was supported by the bill’s sponsor, Epilepsy Foundation Los Angeles; the national Epilepsy Foundation; Epilepsy Foundation of Northern California; Epilepsy Foundation of Orange County; Epilepsy Foundation of San Diego County; as well as more than 90 other organizations, including American Academy of Pediatrics – California; American Nurses Association – California; Association of Regional Center Agencies; California Board of Registered Nursing; California Chronic Care Coalition; California Life Sciences; California Neurology Society; California School Nurses Organization; the Hidden Truths Project; Momentum; National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners; Rare Epilepsy Network, and the Seizure Action Plan Coalition.

“As the primary author and sponsor of the American with Disabilities Act and a lifelong advocate for the rights of people with disabilities, I’m thrilled that California has become the 19th state to implement the Seizure Safe Schools Act,” said former Congressman Tony Coelho. Coelho represented California in the House of Representatives for more than 10 years, eventually serving as majority whip, and former chairman of the board of the national Epilepsy Foundation.

Epilepsy is the fourth-most common neurological disorder in the United States. More than 3.4 million Americans are currently living with epilepsy, including approximately 336,000 kids who have at least one seizure annually.

About the Epilepsy Foundation Los Angeles

The Epilepsy Foundation Los Angeles is leading the fight to END EPILEPSY® together and overcome challenges created by seizures by focusing on care, advocacy, research and education. Through these areas of focus, we offer a range of services and programs to help, support, advocate for, and empower those who are affected by epilepsy and their caregivers.

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Update on COVID-19 and People with Epilepsy

In a recent issue of the International League Against Epilepsy’s Epigraph, the subject of COVID-19 and people with epilepsy arose following a report shared at the European Epilepsy Congress in Geneva this past July.

At the Congress meeting, Dr. Bernhard J. Steinhoff reported upon two years of data collection to address questions surround the risks of the COVID-19 infection and vaccination, such as:

Q: Does COVID-19 infection increase new-onset seizures or epilepsy incidence in the population?
A: There is no evidence that it does.

Q: Was the COVID-19 pandemic associated with increases in seizure frequency?
A: Yes – but they were not due to infections or vaccinations.

Q: Are people with epilepsy at increased risk for more serious cases of COVID-19 infection?
A: If they are, it is due to comorbidities or other factors – not the epilepsy itself.

Read more online here.



September 12, 2022

Urge Governor Newsom to Sign Seizure Safe School Act into Law

AB 1810 (Seizure Safe Schools Act) has passed the Senate Floor and is now in front of Governor Newsom. We invite our community to send a letter voicing your support for Governor Newsom to sign the bill into law. Take these two easy steps today to make your voice heard:

Step 1: Write your own letter or customize our template letter (AB 1810 – Support Letter TEMPLATE – Governor Newsom).

Step 2: Email a PDF of your letter, with the subject line Requesting Signature on AB 1810 (Levine), to the Legislative Unit Inbox:

Questions? Contact Rebekkah Halliwell, Executive Director, Epilepsy Foundation Los Angeles at

AB 1810 Background Information
The Issue: In the United States, an estimated 3,400,000 people – of which 470,000 are children – have been diagnosed with epilepsy, a neurological disorder involving recurrent unprovoked seizures. It is the fourth most common neurological disorder, and 1 in 26 people will develop epilepsy in their lifetime. Aside from those who have the disorder, many lives are affected by epilepsy. Seizures are unpredictable and can occur at any time—including during school hours. While school nurses are trained to administer medication, school nurses may not be onsite or available when one occurs. In 2013, the California Supreme Court ruled that non-medical school employees could administer anti-seizure medication to students suffering from seizures. It is important that those who are supervising a child with epilepsy have the opportunity to be trained properly to recognize and, if necessary, to respond to a seizure and help the child.

The Solution: AB 1810 would establish the Seizure Safe Schools Act to allow schools to designate one or more volunteers to receive initial and annual refresher training for the emergency use of anti-seizure medication for a pupil diagnosed with seizures, a seizure disorder, or epilepsy, if the pupil is suffering from a seizure. California has enacted similar laws for the use of epinephrine for allergic reactions (SB 1266, Huff 2014) and naloxone for opioid overdoses (AB 1748, Mayes 2016). The volunteer training would include recognition of the signs and symptoms of seizures and the appropriate steps to be taken to respond to those symptoms. In addition, the bill would provide for the development of “seizure action plans” for all students diagnosed with epilepsy or seizures and identify students eligible for individualized education plans (IEPs) and Section 504 accommodations. AB 1810 would also guarantee protections for the employees who volunteer to administer the medication. Eighteen states have already implemented versions of the Seizure Safe Schools Act. This bill will provide school sites with information and training necessary to aid children with Epilepsy while on campus and create a safer environment for these children to succeed.

View AB 1810 language
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