“When You Need to Take Your Medicine, Go See the School Nurse—oops, Gym Teacher”

Request Your Free Consultation

Once upon a time, virtually every school in Kentucky had a school nurse—not anymore. With increasing budgetary constraints, many schools have had to lay off their on-site nurses. Now these schools either have no nurse at all or have to share one with other schools in the district.

An online article on the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) website details the results of this situation.

Here Are the Unsettling Statistics

The National Association of School Nurses states that fewer than 50 percent of the public schools in the United States currently have a full-time, on-site nurse. Of the remainder, 30 percent have a part-time nurse who services multiple schools, and 25 percent have no nurse at all on staff.

…And Here Are the Possible Consequences

Does every school really need its own nurse on site? With nurses spread so thin and not right there to provide a resource for school staff, here are some possible outcomes:

  • Children’s undiagnosed serious health problems may not be discovered, and the children will not get the medical treatment they need.
  • Emotional and behavioral disorders may not be recognized; hence, they will also go untreated.
  • Children who take medication regularly may be receiving them from individuals without medical training, such as teachers and office staff.

This last statement may seem unimportant; after all, parents do not necessarily have medical training, and they give their kids medicine—generally with no ill effects. According to the ISMP, however, medication errors occur three times more often when unlicensed assistive personnel (UAP) distribute children’s medicines in school rather than a school nurse. How could this happen?

A Disturbing Example

Here is a case from the ISMP website that paints a truly frightening picture of what could happen.

A 10-year-old girl with asthma and food allergies was short of breath when she got to her Washington school. Her sister hurried to the school office to get help. Unfortunately, the part-time school nurse was not scheduled to be at the school that day, and the person filling in was a former lunch server and playground supervisor. This “health clerk” had no medical training and didn’t locate the emergency treatment plan, the girl’s asthma medicine, the rescue inhaler, and the epinephrine injector (for allergic reactions) that were on hand.

The girl collapsed, and school staff called 9-1-1. No one had administered CPR, and the young girl died of an acute asthma attack.

The epinephrine would have saved her life.

If you have experienced a medication error in Louisville, call the Kentucky medication error lawyers at Gray and White Law toll free at 888-450-4456 or locally at 502-210-8942.