“School Nurse Denies Inhaler, Watches Student Lose Consciousness”

by Walter Olson on May 26, 2012

Following the rules in Florida: a 17-year-old high school student “very nearly died because the school nurse refused to let him use his inhaler because his mother didn’t sign a form.” [Isa-Lee Wolf, Yahoo via Free-Range Kids]

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When Schools Are Like Jails — Or Worse
05.29.12 at 6:52 pm

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1 John Fembup 05.26.12 at 10:01 am

“because his mother didn’t sign a form.”

Can more laws about behavior really help?

I say, we don’t need no more stinkin laws.

In fact, under the laws we have this is clearly the mother’s fault, so maybe we need less laws. Unless, that is, you’re happy to blame the mother.

2 Robert 05.26.12 at 10:19 am

She didn’t even call 911, according to the article. That’s shameful.

3 gitarcarver 05.26.12 at 11:26 am

Robert,

It is worse than that when you think about it.

Yes, the nurse didn’t call 911. But it was not the nurse that was in contact with the mother – the school administration was. No one – a school principal, dean, secretary or anything said “hey, shouldn’t we call 911?”

Just as dumb is the fact the mother was called, notified, gave her permission to use the inhaler, and yet they waited for her to arrive at the school while her son was locked in a room lying on a floor. A verbal approval was not good enough?

The depths of stupidity cannot be understated here.

This is an incident where someone – if not many people – should lose their job.

4 doug 05.26.12 at 12:38 pm

the nurse should lose her license.

5 John Fembup 05.26.12 at 1:50 pm

“though every state has laws allowing kids to carry inhalers, administrators still hesitate to allow them to do so”

Er, “allow” them? Allow them? I ask, how did they prevent it?

The kid is 17 years old. I was 17 once, and I too used an inhaler. If I needed to use it, I’d like to have seen ANY nurse try to stop me. Of course when I was 17, schools still employed competent people.

There has to be more to this story.

6 Bill 05.26.12 at 2:42 pm

I’ve read several reports that claim that the mother did in fact sign the form, but that the school (she claims) apparently lost or misfiled it.

And note, at 17-1/2 years old, this young man can enlist in the military, but the school considers him incompetent to administer his own medication.

It looks to me as if a number of heads should roll for gross incompetence and negligence in failing to call 911. The rest may in fact be dictated by school rules, in which case voters should start by replacing their school board.

7 Bill Poser 05.26.12 at 3:26 pm

John Fenbump@In many, probably most, schools nowadays students are not allowed to carry any medication, due to the insane war on drugs. Possession of an aspirin or Tylenol results in a multi-day suspension or worse.

8 Scott 05.26.12 at 3:53 pm

Doesn’t this kind of thing fall out of the “war on drugs”. A lot of these policies come from “zero tolerance” rules that require arduous restrictions on OTC and prescription drugs.

9 gitarcarver 05.26.12 at 4:55 pm

I didn’t read the cited articles here because I thought they would reference a local article but they didn’t. There is more information in this local article:
http://www.clickorlando.com/news/Nurse-refuses-student-inhaler-during-asthma-attack/-/1637132/13560430/-/wm13uaz/-/index.html

The kid had the inhaler in his locker but the previous Friday it was taken from out of the locker by the dean. The inhaler was still in its original packaging with Rudi’s name on it as well as instructions.

The school district said the nurse did the right thing by denying the use of the inhaler, but yet school policy required they call 911 in this particular situation.

10 Richard Nieporent 05.26.12 at 9:59 pm

It is hard to believe that this story could be true. How could a nurse of all people be so callous as to watch this student have an asthma attack without doing anything? All she had to do was hand him his inhaler that the article indicated was clearly labeled on the prescription to be his. How could she refuse to do that when she sees that he is having trouble breathing? Does she not understand that “I was just following orders” is not an acceptable defense? And to add insult to injury, the school system had the temerity to defend her. Do they not care that through the nurse’s deliberate refusal to help the boy he could have died? Not only should she lose her nursing license, and the school administrators be fired for gross incompetence, but she should also be sent to jail for child endangerment.

11 John Fembup 05.26.12 at 10:23 pm

@Richard Nieporent, agree – – There has to be more to this story.

As of right now, I’m beginning to wonder if the school district is trying to keep anyone from knowing it.

12 gitarcarver 05.26.12 at 11:47 pm

Richard,

The question I have is when the dean confiscated the inhaler on the Friday prior to the incident, shouldn’t the kid or the school tell the mother there was no release form on file for the kid?

I am not sure whether that matters for the actual incident, but I am just south of the county where this took place. In our county, if a child has drugs in the school – and as the inhaler seems to be a prescription – the kid is suspended and the parents called.

I am not saying the kid should have been suspended for having the inhaler, but something happened where the parent didn’t know the inhaler was confiscated, or chose to ignore the school’s request for the permission form.

Even assuming there was a lack of communication for whatever reason, in my opinion, the nurse and the administrators of the school have to go.

13 David Schwartz 05.26.12 at 11:58 pm

Surely if a parent had withheld an inhaler under those circumstances, it would be considered child abuse.

14 ps 05.27.12 at 3:50 am

i think the school acted correctly. Asthma sufferers should be banned from school property. There is no place for drug pushing wheezers in school.

15 david7134 05.27.12 at 12:10 pm

I had a child with asthma and the school system would not allow an inhaler on his person. I went to the school and asked what the procedure was for his need. They pointed to a large wall with very small cubicles were multiple medications for other students were stored. The child had to leave class, walk a good distance and hope that a none medical person would give the correct drug. I took the name of all concerned and pointed out the problems with the system. I further told them that they were now warned of the situation and as a result could be individually sued or prosecuted if something happened to my child. They gave him his inhaler.

16 Richard Nieporent 05.27.12 at 12:39 pm

David7134, that is exactly the approach that should be taken. If the school system is going to prevent the student from taking his medication by himself, then they should be held responsible for anything that goes wrong. In other words the school is responsible for making sure that the permission form is signed before the child is allowed in the school and the school is responsible for making sure that the student gets the medication when it is needed without having to call 911. In anything at all goes wrong then they should be held criminally and financially responsible.

17 Hugo S. Cunningham 05.27.12 at 1:39 pm

Might there be grounds for an ADA injunction against rigid school drug control rules that unreasonably degrade the education of a competently self-medicating asthma patient?

18 boblipton 05.27.12 at 10:12 pm

That is the beauty of Zero Tolerance. It does not require reason. In fact, it bans it.

Bob

19 Beth 05.28.12 at 12:04 am

What part of nursing judgment and critical thinking does she not understand?

20 Mannie 05.28.12 at 1:58 pm

Repeat after me. School is not your friend. It is the most dangerous place a child can be.

21 Yeaah 05.28.12 at 2:15 pm

Fight bad consequences of lawsuit happy society by more lawsuits? That sounds interesting.

22 No Name Guy 05.28.12 at 7:16 pm

The inhaler is not the property of the Dean nor the school nurse. Therefore their possession of it without permission of its rightful owner (the student and or his mother) constitutes theft. Their denial of its use by its rightful owner is a clear violation of the private property rights of the student an or his mother.

23 Fox 2! 05.28.12 at 9:46 pm

Since the inhaler is a prescription medication, doesn’t it’s theft and possession by the dean constitute a Federal felony?

24 DensityDuck 05.29.12 at 1:48 pm

And yet if you homeschool, you’re a crazy Christianist creationist who’s going to raise a socially-maladjusted moron.

25 Nancy Gilly 05.30.12 at 6:33 pm

My daughter’s middle school conveniently “forgot” to put her name on a list of kids going on a field trip, and therefore they didn’t have her inhaler. Naturally she had an asthma attack, and I had to take time from work, drive half way across Connecticut to meet her and the school rep at the ER (at least they had been able to start treatment), and *I* was financially liable for all medical bills! This is spite of the fact that the field trip form I had signed specifically stated that she had asthma and that they were supposed to have her inhaler with them to avoid exactly this scenario.

The next field trip (the 8th grade fun trip) they only allowed her to go if a parent or guardian went along to carry the inhaler. Given our history with the school, we agreed, and my mother had a very nice time at Lake Compounce.

I am so happy she is now in the state’s vo-tech high school system and has a sane school nurse and sane policy with regard to asthma meds.

26 Bill Poser 05.31.12 at 12:17 am

Nancy Gilly@I’m curious: has the school given you anything resembling a reasonable explanation for why your daughter cannot carry her own inhaler, which I imagine she does when not in school?

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