Local school districts ahead of proposed law

Published 7:00 am Friday, February 21, 2014

A bill entitled the Mississippi Asthma and Anaphylaxis Child Safety Act, if enacted and signed into law by Gov. Phil Bryant would require school districts, along with private and parochial schools to implement protocols for the emergency treatment of asthma, anaphylaxis and other life-threatening diseases.

While the bill would require emergency protocols, Picayune and Pearl River County school districts already have implemented protocol plans for children with medical needs.

The Picayune School District has a Licensed Practical Nurse at each school under the supervision of Registered Nurse Jan Sweet. Pearl River County schools have two full-time RN’s on the elementary schools campus, one full-time RN and one part-time RN on the middle school and high school campus.

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Sweet said each student with a medical condition, whether chronic or a food allergy has a care plan filed with the district and school nurse.

“We have a form for almost any condition you can name but it’s filled out to meet the particular needs of the child,” Sweet said.

Every teacher or adult in charge of the child’s care during the day is given a copy of the plan to make sure they understand the child’s condition and what medical attention is required.

Dawn Malcolm said the school nurse sits down with parents of a student with a medical condition to discuss what the child’s needs are.

The parents provide a statement or medical order from the child’s physician that the nurses follow when it comes to the treatment of the student, Malcolm said.

She said on the middle and high school campus, sometimes the student’s are allowed to carry their epinephrine injectors with them or they are left in the nurses’ office, depending on the wishes of the parent and physician.

Both school districts require students receive any necessary medications from the school nurse.

“It’s a very effective way of making sure the child is safe,” Sweet said about care plans.

According the bill, 40-50 percent of children diagnosed with a food allergy or asthma have a high risk of anaphylaxis. Children with an undiagnosed food allergy may experience their first reaction at school.

The bill states the parent of a student must provide written authorization for the student to self-administer prescription asthma and anaphylaxis medication, written statement releasing the school district and its employees from liability for an injury arising from the student’s self-administration of the prescription asthma and anaphylaxis medications, statement from the student’s health care provider stating the child’s condition and the medication the child was prescribed. Additionally, parents should include information concerning recommended dosages and the times or circumstance the medication should be administered.

As is the policy at both school districts, the physician’s statement must be kept on file in the principal or school nurses’ office.