Hello parents everywhere,
This month let me tell you about a movement in California that has generated great concern among many of us moms who are also nurses. You are aware that the decisions of one state often lead to the next legislation for the other forty-nine. Parents of preemies, listen up, as your child may be involved in one of these scenarios.
There are presently two bills pending before our legislature which intend to protect the school districts from lawsuits brought by parents who react to faulty administration of medications to their children. These bills, AB 1802 (re: Insulin) and SB 1051 (re:Diastat rectal gel) are both worrisome. Why? Each has the possibility of physical and/ or psychological harm to the student if—
- given the wrong dose,
- given wrong site,
- given incorrectly,
- or given at all.
But what’s a mother to do? If the type 1 diabetic child becomes hypo- or hyper-glycemic (Hmmm, now which is which?) and requires Insulin, as opposed to Glucagon, and a nurse isn’t around…?
And what’s a mother to do if her child, K-12, suffers a (what is commonly called) grand mal seizure in class or on the field? Does it make sense for the first responder to pull down the pants of that linebacker, unlock the Valium Rectal gel from wherever they decide it must be sequestered, and jam the syringe inside the poor student’s you-know-where, within the first 5 minutes, otherwise it is not effective?
And why has the Epilieptic Foundation joined with the drug manufacturer to nod to this practice,when on their own website they advise first responders to do nothing but turn the victim to the side, and make him comfortable by placing a pillow or something soft beneath the head ? There may be exceptions, they say, but circumstances requiring medical intervention should be planned. Instead of calling 911, this is the plan? (http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/about/quickstart/parents/qsprmanaging.cfm)
Diastat rectal syringe
Valium is a controlled substance, BTW, and in demand by certain folks who, shall we say, would want to take it without purchasing?
Lucky for us, the school districts (and the American Diabetic Assoc., plus the AMA; the Epileptic Foundation, and the drug manufacturer) have the answer. They propose a volunteer (i.e., an unlicensed medical person), and a parent make a contract, in which the parent gives up the right to sue in case of dire consequences,or negligence, based on the volunteer’s lack of knowledge. Clever!
This is tantamount to hiring a handyman instead of a licensed electrician to wire your house. It may be a “cheap” fix, but there will be hell to pay if something goes wrong. Not to mention… it’s illegal! Yes, the Nurse Practice Act, which mandates the education and licensing of nurses, was established for the public good, just like the Building and Safety Code. Both protect consumers. From what? From deadly mistakes.
Their solution is just (may I say it?) a bandaid on the problem.
We know each school district gets a budget allocation from the state. We know budgets have been cut for “nonessentials” like music, art, P.E., and school nurses. And what are the consequences ? Sicker students have more need for knowledgeable nursing intervention at school.
Hurray for California Assemblymember Tom Torlakson, who served many years as a teacher in California public schools. He has offered AB 2454, which mandates a safe-staffing ratio for school nurses. If you like, here’s a homework assignment for you parents. What is the ratio of students per licensed nurse in your school district? Each is different, but I guarantee the answer will frighten you.