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Lodi-area school districts react to California Supreme Court’s insulin ruling

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Posted: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 12:00 am

Several Lodi Unified School District officials didn’t respond to calls and emails for comment on a California Supreme Court ruling Monday allowing school employees to administer insulin to diabetic students in the absence of a school nurse.

However, trustee Ron Heberle said he sees many potential problems with the ruling.

“No one should be giving insulin unless they’re medically trained to do so,” said Heberle, a retired battalion chief with the Lodi Fire Department.

Heberle said it might be all right for non-nurses to use a pre-measured auto-injector with insulin.

“Even with that, it’s dangerous,” Heberle said. “Without someone with medical knowledge, people should not be administering medication.”

Lodi Unified’s current policy limits the use of medication.

“Only a school nurse or other school employee with an appropriate medical license may administer an insulin injection to a student,” according to Lodi Unified’s current board policy. “In the event such licensed school personnel are unavailable, the district may contract with a licensed nurse from a public or private agency to administer insulin to the student. However, in an emergency situation such as a public disaster or epidemic, a trained, unlicensed district employee may administer an insulin injection to a student.”

Galt Joint Union Elementary School District nurses have already trained health assistants and other school personnel to support monitoring diabetic students, according to Superintendent Karen Schauer.

However, only nurses, parents or students themselves can currently administer the insulin.

Administration is waiting for guidance for addressing policy changes through California School Boards Association, Schauer said.

Last year, the district had seven insulin-dependent diabetics who required shots during the school day. If students need shots and they don’t self-administer them, or parents do not administer them, the school nurse does, Schauer said.

Several years ago, school board trustees amended district policy on insulin administration. Under it, school nurses have trained health assistants to assist them by monitoring diabetic students through ensuring injection schedules are followed each school day, maintaining records and contacting the school nurse or parent should there be a need, Schauer said.

The policy of the Galt Joint Union High School District is similar to the elementary district.

School staff who administer medication, including epinephrine auto-injections, to students also receive training from qualified medical personnel on how such medication should be administered, as well as training in the proper documentation and storage of the medication. Additional information was unavailable.

If a student’s parent or guardian chooses, they may administer the medication to their child. In addition, the parent/guardian may designate another individual who is not a school employee to administer the medication to the student, according to the policy, last updated in 2005.

And — upon written request by the parent/guardian, with the approval of the student’s physician, and overseen by the school nurse — a student with a medical condition that requires frequent treatment, monitoring or testing may be allowed to self-administer, self-monitor and self-test.

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