Wednesday, 29 August 2007

CA school nurses balk at training non-medical staff

Filed under: , , , , , ,

Recently I posted on the California Department of Education's recent lawsuit settlement with the American Diabetes Association. CDE promised students would have access to legally-required diabetes care on campus. With a shortage of school nurses, CDE agreed caregivers could include trained volunteers. I came away from the agreement thinking, "Good! It may have taken a lawsuit, but problem solved." But this settlement is hardly a neatly wrapped package.

Liability drives many decisions. Now the California School Nurses Organization has advised school nurses to seek guidance from district lawyers before training volunteers. Nurses are concerned they could lose their licenses if they train non-medical staff. Executive Director Nancy Spradling stated insulin injections should be monitored by licensed personnel -- incorrect calculations can be fatal or trigger a coma. They've got a point.

Student diabetes care varies widely in California. With a student population of 22,000, Lake Elsinore Unified School District is doing a good job. They have eight nurses taking care of 70 students with diabetes. Last year, Palm Springs Unified School District had only 3 nurses for 24,000 students, requiring parents to visit district schools daily to inject children too young to handle the task themselves.

Arlene Mayerson, directing attorney with the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (they represented the ADA in the lawsuit), stated California has one of the lowest nurse-to-student ratios. Perhaps a new certification for a 'School Diabetes Specialist' is on the horizon. Regardless, I hope the CDE figures out a solution to honor the settlement. I bet school districts across the country are watching -- the health of students with diabetes is at stake. Don't forget the nurses' concern. Beyond losing their licenses, no one wants to see a student with diabetes hurt or killed due to an improperly trained, unlicensed adult volunteer. Read the full story in The Press Enterprise.

No comments: