Supreme Court Weighs Whether Non-Nurses Can Give Shots to School Kids
On Wednesday, the California Supreme Court heard arguments about whether only licensed nursesÂ can administer insulin injections and other medicationsÂ in public schools, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The state's Nursing Practice Act prevents unlicensed individuals from performing the duties of a nurse, including providing treatment that requires significant scientific knowledge or technical skills. Under the law, administration of medicine is considered a nursing function.
Two lower courts have sided with the California Nurses Association, which argues that the law requires licensed nurses to provide insulin injections and other medications to school children.
However, the American Diabetes Association appealed the decisions, citing a provision in the law that allows any person to follow a physician's orders as long as that person does not assume the role of a nurse.
The state Supreme Court must reconcile the Nursing Practice Act with the state education code, which allows school personnel to assist students with medication.
Details of Arguments
During arguments on Wednesday, the Supreme Court justices appeared skeptical of arguments that licensed nurses must deliver shots to school children, the Times reports.
Justice Ming Chin asked why school districts -- most of which do not have full-time nurses -- should be required to call in a licensed practitioner to administer a shot that a child's parents and doctors have agreed could be given by an unlicensed but trained employee.
Justice Joyce Kennard asked why the state would prohibit a trained employee from giving an insulin shot "when even a child who is not too young can administer himself or herself."
Dennis Maio -- an attorney for the diabetes association -- said that if the law were interpreted as nursing groups say it must be, a school employee would be unable to remove a safety cap from a pill bottle of children's antibiotics.
However, Maureen Cones -- a lawyer for CNA -- said that schools must make health care a priority and that the Supreme Court is bound to follow laws passed by the Legislature. She said, "The law says what it says, and only the Legislature can change the law."The Supreme Court must rule on the matter within 90 days (Dolan, Los Angeles Times, 5/29). 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.