Many children are able to attend school because of the effectiveness of their medication. The health circumstances requiring medication are many. Medications may be essential for continued functioning, and in rare instances (with allergies more prevalent) may be necessary for life-threatening emergencies. For most students medication is used to treat acute or chronic problems. The use of medications in school will benefit the child to facilitate participation at their fullest independent capacity.
There are several requirements that the school nurse must meet in order to give medication to children in school.
- There are special medication forms available in each school. The medication form must be filled out and signed by the physician and also signed by the parent. The parent must bring the medication into the school nurse in the original medicine bottle with no more than a 45 day supply of medication. The parent must have a new medication form filled out every year. The medication must be picked up by the parent at the end of the school year. It cannot be sent home with the students.
- There has been an increase in food allergies in recent years. Many children have severe food allergies or allergies to bee stings. Most children with severe allergies will have an order from the doctor, signed by the parent, for the school nurse to administer an Epi-pen for a severe allergic reaction. These children will have an individualized health care plan with parent and physician input and signatures to give the nurse direction in the case of an allergic reaction.
- Many children have asthma and related breathing problems requiring the use of inhalers. This is a medication that must have a doctor’s order and signature and parent’s signature. Both the box and the inhaler should be labeled with the proper use of the inhaler. Parent’s can ask their pharmacist to make sure both the box and inhaler are labeled. It has been shown by research that the use of a spacer with an inhaler can increase the efficacy of the inhaler. Please discuss the use of spacers with your physician for your child’s benefit.
- Many children go on field trips over the course of the school year, some just for the day, sometimes overnight. Please be aware that the same regulations apply to the use of medications on field trips. In the absence of the school nurse, a teacher or principal can give the children medication after training by the school nurse.
The school nurse plays an integral role in the education of your children. When the child is well, he or she is better equipped to learn.