Beginning March 1, public schools in Madison and across the state will be constrained in their ability to dispense medication to students and respond to health emergencies.
"Our options are now limited," says Freddi Adelson, the Madison district's health services coordinator.
The changes, crafted by the state Department of Public Instruction and passed by the Legislature last year, set stricter rules for dispensing medications at school than current district policy.
For instance, Madison schools now let school nurses dispense acetaminophen or ibuprofen to the students of parents who give written permission. The new rules say schools can dispense only medications
provided by parents or legal guardians; the Madison district has decided it can't keep parent-provided supplies of these common pills on hand for thousands of individual students, so these will no longer be available.
The rule also requires the district to switch to a more expensive delivery device for the drug epinephrine, used to treat severe allergic reactions. And it forbids the use of a common drug therapy to treat sudden asthma attacks if students do not have medication on hand.
Adelson says the district annually sees 80 to 120 such attacks, and because
"asthma's an unpredictable disease," some students are not prepared in advance. For this reason, every Madison school has a drug-dispensing machine called a nebulizer to stabilize students until paramedics arrive. After March 1, this will no longer be allowed.
So now nurses must just sit there and hope paramedics arrive in time? "Yeah," says Adelson, who testified against the proposed changes, to no avail.
What was that Gov. Walker said about excessive government regulation?