Self-Administration of Medication: Common Provisions
Typical state or local policies on administering medications contain certain key provisions, while the self-administration of medication is typically prohibited. The two most basic requirements are parental consent and a medication order from the prescribing physician (dentist, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, etc.). Most regulations or policies require that a medication plan be completed by the school nurse or health service employee and that it contains minimum required information such as emergency contacts and telephone numbers, allergies and known side effects, the quantity of the medication delivered to the school, plans for administering medication on school field trips or planned events, and information on self-administration. An individual student log, documenting dates and times of administered medicine, is usually part of the plan on file and ultimately becomes part of the school health record.
Requirements for the self-administration of medication evoke more controversy. Students who suffer from asthma and similar respiratory illnesses may suffer undue panic or anxiety attacks when separated from their inhalers. On the other hand, a few asthmatic (and other) students nationwide have been known to sell off their medications to fellow students looking for a "high" or quick thrill. In schools where students are permitted to keep asthma medication close at hand, there are generally strict instructions as to where the medication may be stored (e.g., locker or backpack) and (sometimes) reserved rights on the part of the school to monitor self-administration. (If schools retain an "overseeing" role in self-medication, they may expose themselves to more liability if they are not protected with immunity).
Policies generally should require that all medication brought to school, whether prescriptive or over-the-counter (OTC), remain in original labeled containers. Of key concern is the access to life-sustaining medications administered by injection, such as insulin and epinephrine (to respond to treat emergency allergic reactions). All parenteral medications and drugs controlled by the Drug Enforcement Agency must be appropriately secured by the schools (and many of them require refrigeration, as well). In such circumstances, even those students approved for administering medications by themselves must report to a school representative to receive the required medication and any dosage paraphernalia (such as a syringe) if needed. Medication dosages/pills should be counted upon arrival and recounted when tendered to school employees.
Ask your school administrators if you have additional questions about students' self-administration of medication on school property.