The Obama administration has taken a rare step and urged the California courts to allow school employees to administer insulin shots to the state’s 14,000 diabetic schoolchildren if no nurses are available, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Two lower courts have ruled that California law allows only licensed doctors and nurses to administer medication, including insulin, except in emergencies. But prohibiting trained non-nursing employees from giving insulin injections “creates a serious obstacle to the ability of California schools to comply with their federal obligations” to educate children with disabilities, the US Justice Department argued in a May 18 filing with the state Supreme Court.
The case was brought to the attention of the federal government by the American Diabetes Association, which wants non-nursing employees to administer insulin.
The original case was filed in 2005 by the diabetes association on behalf of type 1 diabetic children. State law, as interpreted by the schools, allowed only the children themselves, their parents, a friend designated by a parent, or a licensed health professional to administer the drug. But the shortage in school nurses made it impossible to abide by the law.
On the other side is the American Nurses Association, backed by the labor unions, which argues that allowing non-nurses to give shots could harm children and discourage schools from hiring more nurses.
I hope that this would also include some intense education about how to test the child’s blood sugar, interpret the results and know exactly how much insulin to administer. Treating a child who is acting out of character without this knowledge could lead to devastating results.