Bill on Administration of Children’s Seizure Drug Continues To Be Divisive
A bill (SB 161),Â by Sen. Robert Huff (R-Diamond Bar), that would allow school employees to administer an epilepsy drug to children continues to divide health care organizations andÂ advocates, Capitol Weekly reports.
In 2005, FDA approved the administration of the anti-convulsion drug Diastat by non-medical personnel, citing study results that the drug was effective 85% of the time (Maclachlan, Capitol Weekly, 7/21).
A 2009 regulation by the California Board of Registered Nursing directed school nurses not to train non-medical staff to administer the drug.
In 2010, HuffÂ introduced a bill (SB 1051) to counter the nursing board's directive. However, the legislation failed to advance out of the Senate Appropriations Committee after nursing unions lobbied against the bill (California Healthline, 6/6).
Huff's SB 161 largely resembles his earlier bill, SB 1051 (Capitol Weekly, 7/21).
TheÂ Senate passed SB 161 in May, and the measure has been referred to the Assembly (California Healthline, 6/6).
Opposing the Bill
The California School Nurses Organization and the California Teachers Association oppose SB 161.
Opponents of the bill argue that Diastat should be administered only by licensed medical personnel and that allowing teachers to administer the drug could add more pressure on overworked staff.
K.C. Walsh, a special education teacher in San Jose, said, "Students are coming to school with more and more medically fragile conditions," adding, "Imposing this on teachers who are already overburdened is not the correct solution."
Supporting the Bill
Among the bill's supporters is the California Medical Association.
In addition, parents of children with epilepsy have said that teachers and non-medical personnel have been administering Diastat successfully in many school districts around the state but that there has not been a coherent statewide policy.
Supporters also have pointed to legal and medical opinions stating that administration of the drug is safe.
In 2007, the School and College Legal Services of California issued an opinion that the drug would need to be given to children only in an emergency situation. It also said Diastat administration is a "routine" procedure that poses "little potential harm to the student" (Capitol Weekly, 7/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.