Archive for Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Kansas Senate panel discusses bill for allowing over-the-counter medication in schools

February 16, 2011

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— A Wichita school district policy forbidding school nurses from giving students over-the-counter medication without a doctor's written order is "barbaric," a state lawmaker said.

The issue came up in a hearing Tuesday over legislation that would allow school nurses to give medicine such as aspirin, Tylenol and ointments with parental consent.

Proponents say the Wichita policy hurts students from low-income homes who may not have access to a doctor. Opponents fear the bill could open school districts to lawsuits if children became sick from the over-the-counter medicines.

Sen. Jean Schodorf, R-Wichita, who led the Senate's education committee, said she wasn't sure what will happen to the measure, but said "Wichita's policy is the most barbaric" in the state.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, D-Wichita, told her colleagues that the legislation would help those individuals who are uninsured or don't have access to just call their physician to get authorization.

Doug Everingham, a former social worker for the Wichita district, said nurses at times asked him to take a child home because of minor pain.

"Had the school nurse been allowed to administer over-the-counter medication, the child could have remained in school," he said.

Monica Williams, a school nurse in the Augusta district, told the committee she is allowed to give students over-the-counter medication. She called requiring a doctor's approval a "heavy burden" of time and money on parents and the health system.

"They're over-the-counter for a reason, and that's so physicians don't have to prescribe them," Williams said. "On any given day, a school nurse may be a family's only access to health care."

But Mandy Pilla, a former Wichita school nurse, said Wichita has a large special education population and those students often take several drugs that could interact with over-the counter medicine. She said the Wichita's current policy protects students and the district.

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