Proposed Law Would Allow Trained Non-Medical School Staff to Administer Seizure Medication (CA)
March 30, 2011
State Sen. Bob Huff is pushing for a law that would enable school districts to train campus employees to administer emergency medical assistance to students having seizures.
Huff, R-Diamond Bar, reintroduced a law last month, supported by the Epilepsy Foundation of California, that is similar to one that failed to pass in 2010.
Under Senate Bill 161, school employees who volunteer would be trained to give a pre-dosed preparation of Diastat Acudial, a medication used to treat prolonged seizures.
“My legislation allows school employees, who volunteer and are trained, to administer Diastat when a child suffers a seizure,” Huff said in a statement. “It’s time that we put the health and safety needs of our children first.”
The California Teachers Association opposed Huff’s previous bill, citing liability for staff and teachers and student privacy as reasons, and also does not favor the reintroduced version.
One of the concerns the 295,000-member union expressed when the previous bill was introduced had to do with the way that Diastat is administered.
The drug must be injected into a child’s rectum by syringe, according to diastat.com.
Frank Wells, a California Teachers Association spokesman, said the organization opposes non-medical personnel doing certain medical procedures. Under the strain of budget cuts, school nurses are in short supply, but they have found ways to meet the needs of students they serve and to rapidly respond to emergencies, he said.
Teachers and staff also might feel undue pressure to volunteer, he said.
“We believe the legislation may be well intentioned, but it actually places students at risk,” he said. “Seizure type recognition and treatment is not to be taken lightly.”
Huff said two years ago that trained teachers and staff, in addition to school nurses, could administer Diastat. That policy changed after a nursing education consultant to the Board of Registered Nursing decided school nurses were not authorized to train non-medical personnel to give this medication, he said.
As a result, campuses statewide are no longer allowing staff to administer Diastat, even those who have been trained, he said. Nurses also are refusing to train staff.
“Parents of children who suffer from epilepsy have been told by some school administrators that they must be available to come to school immediately to administer Diastat,” Huff said.
“Even worse, some schools are resorting to calling 911 when no such emergency exists. This delay places children in grave danger since Diastat treatment must be administered immediately after a seizure has begun.”
Huff’s bill was amended last week and is expected to return to the Senate Education Committee Wednesday.