Medications, Drug Testing, and Other Safety Precautions

 

In schools, there are various instances where students sometimes need to take medicine, whether it be allergy medicine, insulin, asthma inhalers, or aids as simple as aspirin. However, since most students are minors, there are a plethora of laws and regulations that control the use of medications on school grounds, as well as the staff that administer them to students.

 

In general, only licensed health care practitioners certified in New York State may administer medications to students in a school setting (§§902-a; Education Law Title VII; 8 NUCRR § 136.7(e); NYS Education Department, Office of Student Support Services, Guidelines for Medication in Schools (Sept. 2015). This is an important law, as children may present allergies to certain medications, and must be given adjusted dosage, as younger persons often require smaller doses of medication than their fully-grown counterparts; actions that only licensed healthcare practitioners are trained to take.

 

Though the administering of medication is limited to licensed professionals, unlicensed staff may be trained to administer glucagon, or epinephrine auto injectors in an emergency where a licensed healthcare professional is not available, or nearby (§921; 8 NYCRR § 136.7(f)). Unlicensed staff are also permitted to assist supervised students with self-administering medication. Examples include simple tasks, such as opening a bottle, assembling nebulizer tubing, or verifying that a student entered the correct numbers into an insulin pump. Unlicensed staff are not, however, permitted to go further. Things like calculating insulin doses, administering insulin, or refilling a reservoir are reserved only for licensed professionals (§902-a; 8 NYCRR § 136.7(d)(6); Guidelines for Medication Management in Schools; NYS Education Department, Office of Student Support Services, Clarification on Insulin Pumps (Mar. 2012)).

 

School districts are permitted to maintain EpiPen’s or EpiPen equivalents on site for use during emergencies (Public Health Law § 3000-c; § 921; 8 NYCRR § 136.6(b)), and are also permitted to store and administer opioid antagonists, medications used by licensed healthcare professionals to administer opioid-related overdose treatments, in case a student shows signs of overdose on school grounds (§§ 6527, 6909; NYS Department of Education, Office of Student Support Services, Guidelines for Implementing Opioid Overdose Programs in Schools (Aug. 2015).

 

Schools must be as prepared as possible for accidental emergencies, stocking the proper first aid kits, as well as the proper Automated External Defibrillator to ensure that it is ready, and accessible in the instance of an emergency (§917(1)). School districts are not forced to stock insulin and glucagon, but they are forced to allow a student with diabetes to carry his or her insulin, glucagon, and blood sugar testing equipment, if the student provides the proper paperwork to allow him or her to carry the medication, and notifies the school of the proper administering information.

 

With many schools requiring students to participate in a physical class, such as gym, weight training, or a particular sport, concussions do occasionally occur. Schools are required to immediately remove the student from any activity where they believe the student may have sustained a concussion (§305(42)(a)(iii); 8 NYCRR § 136.5(d)(1). Furthermore, schools must retain the student from further athletic activity until he or she has been symptom free for a minimum period of 24 hours, and has been evaluated by a licensed physician (§305(42)(a)(iiii); 8 NYCRR § 136.5(d)(2). Furthermore, school officials who supervise or instruct athletic classes, must be properly trained, and complete on a biennial basis, a course of instruction to identify and recognize the signs and symptoms of concussions.

 

There are endless possibilities that can occur wile children are at school. From concussions, to accidental overdoses, school districts train to be as well prepared as possible for the wellbeing of their students. 

 

 

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Angel A. Castro, III, Esq.

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