Schools Eliminate Nurse Positions; Children With Chronic Diseases Seek Other Help
As schools in California have been cutting nurses from their staffs, an increasing percentage of schools are using untrained personnel or parents to administer care, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports. Schools around the nation, including those in California, have been eliminating "nonessential" positions, such as nurses, from school staffs, the AP/Bee reports. Between 1998 and 2003, the percentage of California schools with a full-time nurse decreased from 7% to 5%, schools with part-time nurses decreased from 75% to 69% and schools with no nurse increased from 19% to 26%, according to surveys by the California State PTA. With fewer nurses, untrained school personnel, such as secretaries, clerks or coaches, have been giving students health services, such as dispensing medications and giving pinprick epinephrine shots for reactions to bee stings. According to the state PTA, the percentage of schools where a part-time nonmedical person is handling student medical care increased from 44% to 66% from 1998 to 2003. Several teachers' organizations and school administrators have said that liability concerns and a lack of medical training should prevent school personnel performing such activities. However, without school staff involvement, some parents have had to take off work to administer care to their children, Francine Kaufman, a pediatric endocrinologist and outgoing president of the American Diabetes Association, said. She added, "It shouldn't be that way. It is the responsibility of the school to care for children while they are there." The Assembly last month passed a bill that would authorize school districts to train staffs lacking medical personnel to give diabetic students emergency glucagon shots, which are safer to administer than insulin shots. Gov. Gray Davis (D) vetoed a similar bill last year because of liability concerns that would have allowed training for both glucagons and insulin shots; the glucagon shot bill has more support (Fouhy, AP/Sacramento Bee, 6/7).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.